Former Invicta FC atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki continued to find success in her native Japan at RIZIN 27.
Hamasaki, in her second reign as RIZIN Fighting Federation’s super atomweight champ, topped Sunday’s RIZIN 27 card in Nagoya, Japan, securing her second victory over young star Kanna Asakura.
The pair first met in 2018, with the inaugural super atomweight title on the line. Three years later, with Hamasaki in her second run as champ, the result was closer — but ultimately, it was Ayaka Hamasaki once again getting her hand raised.
The main event of RIZIN 27 got off on the wrong foot, or more accurately the wrong knee, when the champion landed just that low on Asakura. The pause in the action, allowing the 23-year old challenger to recover, soon gave way to a spirited game of Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots on the restart. The fiery exchange saw Hamasaki steadily moving forward, backing Asakura up before taking her down in the corner of the ring. Hamasaki then trapped a leg, allowing her to land some short punches before firing a knee. Sensing danger, Asakura reversed, picked the champ up, and slammed her down, showing she wasn’t out of it just yet. The round would be paused again, however, as the ringside doctor checked on some damage to the eye of Asakura. Luckily, it appeared to be under the eye itself, and the action was allowed to continue.
Asakura’s biggest moment in the opening round came with her takedown and following exchange. Later in the round, she managed to back the champ, who was sporting a trickle of blood by her nose, up, landing kicks to the body. But Hamasaki rallied back. In the second round, Hamasaki’s striking, with her left hand threatening, led to her putting Asakura on her back. The challenger worked to tie up the 38-year old, and an ensuing scramble saw Asakura get on top, only to have to contend with the threat of an upkick. It would be some time before Hamasaki scrambled free, only to be forced to fight off a single-leg takedown attempt. For as long as she could — Asakura would put her back down before the end of the round.
As the fight wore on, the damage to Asakura’s face was looking worse. Hamasaki would attempt a standing kimura in the third, leading to a grappling exchange and brief final takedown by the champion. It would go the distance. At the end of the affair, the judges awarded the split decision to the champion, marking her second defeat against Asakura. With the win, Ayaka Hamasaki improved to 22-3, but it was no easy feat.
RIZIN 27’s co-main event saw Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza taking on Kazuki Tokudome in lightweight action. The Brazilian wasted no time in getting the job done, submitting Tokudome via triangle within two minutes. But it was Japan’s Tokudome who bizarrely took Souza down early in the fight, putting the submission expert right in his wheelhouse while the fighters were still dry. A costly mistake.
Ahead of the fight, Souza had called for an interim title to be created in the absence of Tofiq Musaev, who won the belt as part of RIZIN’s lightweight grand prix in 2019, defeating Bellator standout Patricky Pitbull in the process. Whether an interim title happens or not, the grappling ace, who previously appeared in exhibition BJJ matches for RIZIN that saw him roll with a team of opponents in a single night, is now closer to MMA gold.