Ayaka Hamasaki, Kanna Asakura Among Winners At Rizin FF 18Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki rallied back from early adversity and picked up a first-round submission victory tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation 18 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Hamasaki finished Suwanan “Amp The Rocket” Boonsorn with a slick armbar.

In addition to the Hamasaki-Boonsorn non-title matchup, Rizin FF 18 also featured two more 49kg women’s bouts. Title contender Kanna Asakura narrowly edged out Alesha “Half Pint” Zappitella by Split Decision, and Ai Shimizu took a Unanimous Decision over Tabatha Ann “Batgirl” Watkins.

 

Hamasaki (19-2-0) was forced to play defence early on, as Boonsorn (3-2-0) opened their fight with a body kick and a takedown into back control. Hamasaki countered with a kimura attempt, but Boonsorn stayed on her back and looked to set up a rear-naked choke. Hamasaki defended and Boonsorn eventually rolled into top position in mount, but Hamasaki secured a sweep and she mounted Boonsorn within seconds. Hamasaki quickly transitioned to an armbar and wrenched back on Boonsorn’s arm, forcing Boonsorn to tap out at the 3:20 mark of round one. Hamasaki has won five straight fights for Rizin since joining the promotion in mid-2018.

 

Asakura (15-4-0) looked to counter early striking aggression from Zappitella (5-2-0, 1 NC) with a takedown, but Zappitella stayed on her feet and Asakura instead backed her into a corner, where she landed a body kick and punches that caused Zappitella’s nose to bleed. Zappitella landed some solid one-twos as the round progressed and Asakura stuck to jabs and single right hands. Asakura took Zappitella’s back on the ground very briefly, but Zappitella exploded back up to her feet and she tagged Asakura with more one-twos. Asakura landed a huge left hand in return and she swarmed on Zappitella with punches. Zappitella clinched and pinned Asakura in a corner, but Asakura broke free and landed kicks and punches to the body late in the round.

The second round began with an exchange of power punches and Zappitella knocked Asakura down with a counter right hand as Asakura threw a body kick. Asakura stood and the fighters continued to exchange hard punches. Zappitella scored a takedown and she landed hammerfists before Asakura managed to get back to her feet. She landed a nice one-two and both women scored with body kicks as the pace remained high. Asakura continued to throw kicks to Zappitella’s liver and she cartwheeled out of a Zappitella takedown attempt. Zappitella landed two hard punches and both women scored with left hands soon after. Asakura cracked Zappitella with a left cross and that set off an exchange of power punches before time expired.

Both women landed solid punches early in round three and Asakura got the better of the exchanges, but Zappitella took her down and she landed some solid shots on the way up. Asakura rose to her feet and circled away. More punches were exchanged and Asakura kept Zappitella on the defensive with combinations and hard left hands. Zappitella returned fire with a flurry of her own in the final two minutes that slowed Asakura’s momentum. Asakura tagged Zappitella with two left hands and a combination as time ticked down and she landed another hard flurry shortly before the bell.

One judge scored the close bout for Zappitella, while the remaining two both favoured Asakura, who got a much-needed victory after suffering an upset loss to Miyuu Yamamoto at Rizin FF 16 in June.

 

Opening up the MMA portion of the card, Shimizu (6-1-0) made a successful promotional debut with a well-deserved decision win over one-time Bellator competitor Watkins (3-3-0). Shimizu landed kicks early on and took Watkins down, but Watkins countered with a guillotine choke and then a deep armbar. Shimizu fought to escape with soccer kicks, but Watkins maintained her grip on the arm. Shimizu eventually broke free and landed punches from the top while controlling Watkins’s left leg. Big hammerfists landed for Shimizu in the final minute and she attempted a jumping stomp before the bell.

The second round began with an exchange of single kicks and punches on the feet. Watkins landed a hard right hand and Shimizu countered with a headlock takedown. Watkins locked on another tight armbar and Shimizu tried to defend by scissoring her legs around Watkins’s head in order to alleviate pressure, but Watkins transitioned to a triangle choke. Shimizu escaped into North-South position and she rained down knees to Watkins’s head. She moved to side control and punished Watkins with punches and elbows to the body until the end of the round.

Shimizu opened the final round with knees to the body and head until Watkins jumped guard. She attempted an armbar and Shimizu defended before returning to North-South position and landing more knees to the head. As the round progressed, Shimizu moved to side control and she used knees and hammerfists to set up a keylock attempt on Watkins’s left arm. Watkins rolled to her stomach and Shimizu landed knees while trapping her in a front headlock. Watkins began to bleed heavily from the nose and Shimizu unloaded with hammerfists until Watkins locked on a triangle choke before the bell.

All three judges scoring the entertaining bout for Shimizu, who has won four straight fights under the Rizin FF and Deep Jewels banners in less than eight months.

 

 

(Photo Credit: Esther Lin, AllElbows.com / InvictaFC.com)