Kai Asakura announces move to UFC, vacates RIZIN bantamweight title

Kai Asakura has a new place to call home after announcing during Sunday’s RIZIN 47 card in Tokyo he has vacated the RIZIN 135-pound title to join the UFC. The two-time RIZIN champion went 13-3 under the company’s banner and leaves to the UFC after winning back-to-back bouts over Yuki Motoya and Juan Archuleta, regaining his belt in December 2023.

The UFC has yet to officially announce the signing and a date and opponent for Asakura’s octagon debut.

“I am giving up my belt and going to the UFC,” Asakura said. “I think there will be an announcement from the UFC soon, but it’s official that I’m going. This should be exciting news, but right now I feel very lonely. I believe that thanks to RIZIN, I, who was originally no one, was recognized as a fighter, a martial artist, a man. And last year, on New Years’ Eve, it was Mr. Sakakibara who accepted my selfish request to go to the UFC without a single defense. I would like to thank Mr. Sakakibara from the bottom of my heart for his support. Thank you very much.”

Asakura has also defeated the likes of Kyoji Horiguchi, Manel Kape and Ulka Sasaki inside the RIZIN ring since joining the company in 2017. “There’s a regret that I lost three main games in a row on New Years’ Eve, but I also became a champion twice,” Asakura said. “I love RIZIN and its fans. I will definitely become a champion at UFC and I will bring fans from all over the world with me, so make sure to look forward to it. I hope you will continue to support me.”

Watch Asakura’s speech below.

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