Prospect in the Spotlight (Dec 25-31): Kai Asakura

Introduction

Thursday, December 31st, Japanese bantamweight prospect Kai Asakura will be in action for Rizin, where he will be looking to defend his championship belt against Kyoji Horiguchi. He will be looking for another win, as Asakura looks to possibly impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract. He represents Tri-Force Jiu-Jitsu Academy, a solid camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Striking: Watching Kai Asakura fights is never dull because the guy is a head hunter and brings an aggressive striking game every time. He is very heavy handed and has serious one-punch knockout power. Yuta Sasaki knows of the power that Asakura possesses, as he had his jaw broken by his fellow countryman. His 68-second knockout of Kyogi Horiguchi was very impressive because Horiguchi is a former UFC title challenger and the fact that he is very durable. Lastly, his soccer kicks, which are allowed in only a handful of MMA promotions, are an especially dangerous weapon for Asakura. In fact, his last two knockouts involved soccer kicks with his brutal KOs of TUF vet Hiromasa Ogikubo and 30-plus fight vet Shoji Maruyama.

Killer Instinct: In addition to his excellent striking, Asakura has a killer instinct that you just cannot teach. It’s exemplified in his soccer kick KOs, but also once he effectively hurt his opponent. He gives his opponent no breathing room once the blood is in the water. He goes into kill mode and is very effective in doing so. He has 13 finishes in 16 fights, 10 of which come by way of knockout. The game plan for Asakura is simple: seek and destroy. Judges be damned.

Needs Improvement

Over-Aggression: Asakura’s strengths are also sometimes a weakness. Sometimes, Asakura over-extends or gets too aggressive and opens himself up to damage. He will get in a wild exchange, and while looking to land one of his massive blows, gets caught with his hands down. See his second fight with now-UFC roster member Manel Kape. They got in some crazy exchanges, and Kape was getting the better of Asakura. Instead of pumping the breaks and getting some breathing room to regroup, Asakura went right back into heaving blows and got dropped (multiple times). Once he got rocked a couple times, there was no coming back. Sometimes, a more measured approach before going wild, or using time to regroup, would be beneficial to Asakura.

Outlook

Regional Champ/Midcard Major: Owning a win over Kyoji Horiguchi is a huge feather in Asakura’s cap. Owning a second win, by any method, would be titanic for Asakura. It would give him carte blanche to go to whatever MMA promotion he has his eyes set on. It could be the UFC, it could be Bellator. Either way, he’d be set up in either promotion to take a high-level fight right off the bat. He’d be an exciting addition that puts on a show every time he goes out there. Would he be a champion of the UFC or Bellator? Highly doubtful. But there is money to be made with him and fights to be had as well.

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