Kanna Asakura, Ayaka Hamasaki & Kanako Murata Win At Rizin FF 10Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Champion Kanna Asakura earned a clear-cut victory in non-title action tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation 10 in Fukuoka, Japan. Asakura posted a Unanimous Decision win over former KOTC titleholder Melissa Sophia Karagianis in 108-pound action.

Earlier on tonight’s card, ex-Invicta FC champion Ayaka Hamasaki made a successful return to action by outpointing fellow grappler Alyssa “Tiny Tim” Garcia, and Kanako Murata overcame injuries and a late opponent change en route to submitting Lanchana Green in a 119-pound catchweight bout.


Asakura (12-2-0) and Karagianis (3-4-0) traded punches and leg kicks in the opening minute until Asakura secured a takedown into half-guard. Karagianis scrambled and tried to stand up, but Asakura took her back and used short punches to set up a rear-naked choke attempt. Karagianis defended well and stood up, but Asakura picked her up and slammed her down to the mat. From the top in side control, Asakura rained down punches, elbows and knees to Karagianis’s face, and she hunted for a guillotine choke before the bell.

Karagianis pressed forward with punches in round two until Asakura took her down. Asakura easily avoided a weak guillotine choke attempt and an armbar before moving to side control. She mounted Karagianis and locked on a rear-naked choke as Karagianis rolled to her side. Asakura quickly spun into an armbar and wrenched back on Karagianis’s arm, but Karagianis refused to submit. Asakura switched to a kimura shortly before the end of the round.

Both women landed punches on the feet in round three, and Asakura scored with a pair of hard one-twos that snapped Karagianis’s head back. Karagianis responded with body kicks and avoided a takedown, but Asakura eventually dragged her down to the mat following a clinch in a corner. Asakura mounted her opponent and looked to set up another armbar, but lost the position. Back on the feet, Karagianis landed knees to the body and Asakura cracked her with right hands in return.

All three judges scored the fight in favour of Asakura, who has racked up seven straight wins. Post-fight, Asakura addressed the crowd and stated that she had been hoping to secure a finish in her first fight back in Fukuoka after becoming champion. She was politely interrupted by former foe Rena Kubota, whom she choked out in December’s Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Grand Prix final.

“I am Shoot Boxing’s Rena and I lost to Kanna last time,” Kubota said after entering the ring. “I thought that maybe I had had enough of MMA and I considered quitting, but I would have regrets. I want to avenge my loss. I ask [Nobuyuki] Sakakibara and [Takeshi] Caesar to please make one more match for me with Kanna.”

“I know how Rena handles pressure, but my motivation only grew with each fight in the tournament and now I have won again,” Asakura responded. “Rena has not fought since then. When I think about that, I feel that another fight [rematch] is too soon even though I respect her.”

“I got shut down,” a disappointed Kubota joked to the audience. “I’ll say again, though, how about one more match between me and Kanna on July 29th? Please support women’s fights. Thank you!”

Backstage, Asakura repeated that she was disappointed with her inability to secure a finish tonight and noted that she had been caught off-guard by Kubota’s challenge in the ring. Asakura stated that she felt that Kubota should first focus on shoot boxing before returning to MMA. Asakura’s opponent, Karagianis, noted that she had not suffered any injuries to her arm during tonight’s contest and stated that she hopes to compete in an upcoming Rizin FF women’s tournament.


Hamasaki (15-2-0) rushed forward with kicks and punches right away, but she ate some hard counter right hooks in the process. The fighters clinched in the corner and Hamasaki dragged Garcia (3-5-0) down to the mat. Garcia gave up her back, but she soon returned to her feet and another clinch followed. Garcia fought off a takedown attempt and backed away, then darted in with looping punches. Hamasaki jabbed and flurried with punches before the bell.

Hamasaki took Garcia down into half-guard in round two and transitioned to a top-side crucifix that allowed her to land a series of unanswered right hands to Garcia’s face. Garcia scrambled out and briefly got back to her feet, but Hamasaki scored another takedown into a partial mount. Garcia kicked her off and swept into top position, but Hamasaki countered with leglocks. Garcia stood over her foe and threw soccer kicks at Hamasaki’s face. Hamasaki attacked with an omoplata late in the round.

The final round began with an exchange of jabs and one-twos on the feet. Garcia reversed a clinch into a rear crucifix, but Hamasaki spun free and a scramble ensued. Hamasaki wound up on top and she landed knees to the side of Garcia’s head. Garcia stood and slammed Hamasaki down, then took her back in search of a rear-naked choke. Hamasaki once again turned into Garcia’s guard and she transitioned to back control soon after. Hamasaki went belly-down with an armbar and Garcia defended by kicking her in the head until time expired.

The judges returned a Unanimous Decision verdict for Hamasaki, who bounced back from her second career defeat 13 months ago. While Hamasaki may return to compete for the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship that she recently vacated, her focus now seems to be on becoming a contender in Rizin FF’s women’s super atomweight division.

“I tried for a finish, but [Garcia] is a student of Josh [Barnett] and she is technical,” Hamasaki commented backstage after the fight. “I pressured her early on, but I still need to improve my striking. I should have finished her when I trapped her arm, but she was powerful enough to escape and my condition tonight was not the best. Rena [Kubota] and I have become good training partners in MMA and we help to develop each other’s skills. I will fight against anyone in Rizin.”

“I got wrapped up in her game tonight,” Garcia admitted backstage. “She trapped me in the clinch and she showed that she has been a champion for a reason. I wanted to show why I belong here, and I felt that I took the first round, but she took the second. Josh said that I have killer instinct, but I want to evolve my mental game. I will be back.”


Murata (7-1-0) shot in for an early takedown and struck from the top in Green’s (0-2-1) guard. She used ground and pound to set up a move to half-guard and threatened with an arm-triangle choke. Green defended against Murata’s choke attempts, but Murata transitioned to side control and then locked on an impressive Anaconda choke in a scramble. Green attempted to escape, but she was eventually forced to submit at the 4:52 mark.

“I could not do what I trained for,” Murata noted backstage. “My [swollen] eye does not hurt, but I suffered an injury in training and I want to thank my mother for her support during that time. Chokes are what I have been training, and I want to continue to develop my submission game using takedowns.”

“Kanako was tough,” Green said after the fight. “I landed an uppercut that damaged her eye and I attempted to get up, but I could not due to her strong wrestling. This was a short-notice fight after a long flight and with food that does not agree with me, but I lost because of Kanako’s superior strength. I would like to come back to compete here again.”



(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)