Ayaka Hamasaki Regains Super Atomweight Title At Rizin FF 26Ayaka Hamasaki recaptured the Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Championship in quick and decisive fashion at Rizin Fighting Federation 26 tonight in Saitama, Japan. Hamasaki submitted Miyuu Yamamoto with an impressive first-round leg scissor choke to regain the vacant 49kg title.

Earlier on the Rizin FF 26 card, Kanna Asakura made her case for a future title rematch with Hamasaki by scoring a hard-fought Unanimous Decision victory over Ai Shimizu. The 23-year-old Asakura, who was defeated by Hamasaki in the pair’s first fight two years ago, has won four straight bouts.

 

Hamasaki (21-3-0) landed a series of leg kicks to open the championship fight tonight and Yamamoto (6-5-0) responded with a lead right hook before clinching in search of a takedown. Hamasaki countered with a rolling kimura attempt as the fight went to the ground. She moved to North-South position and then trapped Yamamoto’s head in a leg scissor choke while maintaining her grip on Yamamoto’s right arm. Yamamoto had nowhere to go as the choke tightened and she tapped out at the 1:42 mark.

Tonight’s victory elevated Hamasaki back to the top of the Rizin FF women’s super atomweight division after the championship was vacated by Seo Hee Ham, who narrowly defeated Hamasaki in a trilogy bout last year. Hamasaki has won seven of her past eight fights including both bouts for Rizin in 2020.

“I’m glad I won this fight to determine a champion,” Hamasaki stated backstage after her victory. “I will continue to fight to prove that I’m the best even though Ham is not here. Miyuu’s punch was strong and I felt her strength when I grabbed her arm. The leg scissors isn’t what I normally aim for, but I did that during my judo era. I look up to Miyuu and admire her career. I will accept any fight that Rizin offers. [Megumi] Fujii’s tears made me cry. She paved the road for so many other female athletes.”

“I am regretful,” a disappointed Yamamoto admitted following the defeat. “Ayaka’s grappling is on a different level from what I was prepared for. I just need to improve.”

 

Asakura (18-4-0) landed a nice lead right hook in the opening minute and she followed with a leg kick as Shimizu (7-2-0) circled to her left. Shimizu tried to clinch and Asakura quickly shrugged her off. After Asakura pressed forward with jab-cross combos, Shimizu tied her up in a clinch in the corner. Shimizu threw short knees to Asakura’s thigh and kept her pinned against the corner post. The fighters were eventually separated and Asakura landed a hard one-two after stuffing a takedown attempt. Shimizu caught a kick and tried to pull Asakura down to the mat, but Asakura maintained her balance against the ropes. Asakura defended very well, but Shimizu landed some knees to the body before the bell.

Asakura kicked at Shimizu’s lead leg and kept her on the defensive in the second round. She switched things up by shooting in for a takedown of her own and Shimizu stuffed it against the ropes. Shimizu trapped Asakura in a front headlock and she landed knees to the top of her head. Asakura countered by tripping Shimizu to the mat, but Shimizu stood back up almost immediately. A lengthy clinch followed and Shimizu landed knees to Asakura’s thigh while holding her against the ropes. The fighters were separated and Asakura landed a combination late in the round.

Shimizu opened the final round with a takedown into side control and she landed knees to the side of Asakura’s head. Asakura scrambled up and Shimizu landed more knees in a clinch. Asakura broke free and landed punch-kick combos as Shimizu circled to her left. A hard leg kick and a combination scored for Asakura, who took Shimizu down soon after. She tried to take Shimizu’s back in a scramble on the ground, but the fighters became tangled up and both rose to their feet. Asakura landed a three-punch combo and she followed with an overhand left. Shimizu dropped levels for a takedown, but it was Asakura who got her down and she landed punches to Shimizu’s head until the end of the fight.

All three judges at ringside scored the fight for Asakura, whose Unanimous Decision victory extended her winning streak to four and put her on a short list of contenders for Hamasaki’s title. Asakura has not lost since she was upset by Yamamoto at Rizin FF 16 in June 2019.

“I am glad that I won, but this fight did not go how I had imagined and so I am not satisfied with some parts,” Asakura noted backstage. “Ai’s power was so strong and she also has really good wrestling. Not just pure wrestling, but wrestling for MMA. After this, Ayaka and Miyuu’s title match happens [later tonight] and I want to be involved in a title match next year. I also think a future rematch with Ai will happen. I lost to both Miyuu and Ayaka, so I will be looking forward to avenging that in a title fight.”

“I trained hard for this fight with just two years of [Rizin] career experience, so I have no regrets,” Shimizu stated following the loss. “I can’t think about the future right now. Kanna is cute when not fighting, but she is a total fighter and she has already had a long career. She was a better striker than me. I would like two more years to improve before getting my chance at revenge.”

 

Opening up tonight’s card, Sakura Mori (3-1-0, 1 NC) quickly submitted Eru Takebayashi (0-0-0, 1 NC) with an armbar at the 1:37 mark of round one. However, as Mori missed weight for the intended 51kg bout, the official result of the fight was a No Contest. Both fighters gave their thoughts on the brief bout when speaking backstage.

“I apologise for missing weight, but I am still really glad that I got to fight on this big stage,” Mori said. “My impression of my opponent did not change. I expected her to be a striker and that was the reality. I regret my mistake [missing weight] and will be a better fighter. I am a grappler first, but I want to show my striking skills as well.”

“I was immature,” the 17-year-old Takebayashi admitted. “My opponent’s grappling was good. Rizin was an amazing opportunity and I will train more in grappling so that I can come back to fight. [Mori] missing weight did affect me. It was the first time that has happened in my career. I was not able to do what I had planned to. I wanted to strike, but I couldn’t tonight.”

 

 

(Photo Credit: Rizin Fighting Federation)