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  • Writer's pictureChris Presnell

Kai Asakura signs with the UFC, targets top-five bantamweights for debut

Kai Asakura

The UFC has completed its biggest signing in a long time, as Japanese bantamweight Kai Asakura (21-4) has officially joined the roster.

The news was just announced on the RIZIN 47 broadcast. Asakura- one of the most popular and successful fighters from Japan at the moment- rose to fame from fighting sixteen times for RIZIN. Of those sixteen fights, Kai was victorious in thirteen, including wins over Kyoji Horiguchi, Hiromasa Ougikubo, and most recently, a TKO of Juan Archuleta.

He then became the RIZIN bantamweight champion, taking Archuleta's belt.

Kai posted a picture with UFC CEO Dana White as early as August of 2022 (see below), prompting speculation from fans that he could be headed there soon. Further meetings in Las Vegas between White and RIZIN promoter Nobiyuki Sakakibara intensified those speculations.

At thirty years old, Kai Asakura trains at Japan Top Team in Tokyo. His older brother, Mikuru, is also a popular MMA star in Japan, and fights in the main event of Super RIZIN 3 on July 28th against Ren Hiramoto.

According to a source, Asakura is looking to immediately enter the fray of the UFC's bantamweight division and test himself against top-five competition. At the moment, Petr Yan (ranked third) and Henry Cejudo (ranked fifth) are without partners for their next fights. No date was announced for Asakura's UFC debut, but seeing as though some kind of collaboration between Kai Asakura and the UFC has been teased for years, fans may not have to wait long.

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