Kai Asakura Relinquishes RIZIN Title, Signs with UFC

Kai Asakura has signed with the UFC
Kai Asakura Credit: RIZIN FF

Kyoji Horiguchi avenging his loss to Sergio Pettis wasn’t the only big news coming out of Sunday’s RIZIN 47, as bantamweight champ Kai Asakura was also on hand to announce the next move in his career.

As it turns out, Asakura is now the promotion’s former 135lb champion, as he has relinquished his title, and opted to sign with the UFC.

Asakura, a two-time RIZIN bantamweight champ, holds notable wins over Horiguchi, former Bellator and RIZIN champ Juan Archuleta, former UFC fighter Ulka Sasaki, and current UFC contender Manel Kape. Despite a single pro fight in 2012, the now 30-year old competed mainly as an amateur until 2015, competing for Rings and South Korea’s ROAD FC before arriving in RIZIN two years later.

Winning his first five fights, including a non-title bout with then-champ Horiguchi, Asakura emerged as one of the company’s biggest stars, alongside brother Mikuru. His first shot at gold, in a rematch with Kape, saw him denied, but he would win the title in his very next fight after Kape jumped ship to the UFC, defeating Ultimate Fighter alum Hiromasa Ougikubo to do so.

Asakura posted a 13-3 record in RIZIN, and boasts a record of 21-4 overall. He’s expeted to be an immediate player in the 135lb division currently reigned over by champ Sean O’Malley.

The UFC has yet to make an official announcement regarding Asakura’s signing.