Prospect in the Spotlight (Jan 1-2): Kanna Asakura

Introduction

Thursday, December 31st, Japanese atoweight prospect Kanna Asakura will be in action for Rizin, where she will be looking to score a title shot against Ai Shimizu. She will be looking for another win, as Asakura looks to possibly impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract. She represents Paraestra Matsudo, a solid camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Wrestling: Asakura has a strong wrestling base, which explains why she is so effective in scoring takedowns. Not only that, but her defense is also very good, which allows her to dictate how the match goes. She works hard for her shots and generally does so from good distance. She then drives forward and secures her opponent on the mat, usually landing in a strong position to do work. From there, she has effective ground-and-pound, which she picks and chooses in the attempt to do one of two things: open her opponent up to advance or damage them to the point of stoppage.

Submissions: Not only is Asakura a good takedown artist, but she is well-versed in the submission game as well. Six of her seven wins come by way of submission, and the techniques employed include kimura, armbar and rear-naked chokes. Her choke out of Rena Kubota and arm-wrenching of Jayme Hinshaw were clearly her two most impressive finishes. If she continues to improve and up her finish rate, she’s going to be a handful for anybody-atomweight or strawweight.

Needs Improvement

Striking Intangibles: Where Asakura thrives on the ground, she has some obvious needs on the feet. While her striking is mostly used to set up a takedown, it would be more effective if she were a threat on the feet. She doesn’t have fear-inducing knockout power. She can get flat-footed and keep her head on a straight line. That makes her easier to hit. She doesn’t cut off the cage as effectively as she could. Her combos could be a little more put together and used more often. She’s still young, so she has time to fill these holes, though.

Decisions, Decisions: About 3/5 of Asakura’s fights go to a decision. That is a problem, in my eyes. MMA is about scoring convincing wins, and nothing is more convincing than finishing your opponent before the judges has to get involved. This is especially concerning because she has decision victories over fighters we could generously refer to as cans. If Asakura wants to catch the eye of the big-three organizations and get to bigger money fights, she will have to be more consistent in putting people away.

Outlook

Future Atomweight Champion: It’s hard to imagine, but Asakura is just 23 years old right now and she already has 21-career fights. That is absurd. The fact that her game doesn’t have that any holes in it at this current point, also, is very impressive. This is a career martial artist. She’s already proven she can beat top-level talent-see her win over now-Invicta champ Alesha Zappitella. She has a fellow prospect on her plate now in Ai Shimzu. However, she is likely eyeing the co-main event of the same card, a title fight between Ayaka Hamasaki and Miyuu Yamamoto, as she wants to be next in line to fight for Rizin gold.

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