Rizin 45 Recap: Kyoji Horiguchi and Kai Asakura Crowned Champions

Rizin 45, held on December 31, 2023, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, was a night to remember. The event featured 17 thrilling fights, with Kyoji Horiguchi and Kai Asakura emerging as the new champions in their respective divisions.

The main event of the evening saw Kyoji Horiguchi defeat Makoto Shinryu in a rematch to become the first-ever Rizin flyweight champion. The first bout between the two had ended in a no-contest due to an accidental eye-poke. This time, however, Horiguchi and Shinryu put on a wild display. The fast-paced opening round featured multiple submission attempts from both sides, but the finish came in the second round when Horiguchi took Shinryu’s back and landed punches to open space for a rear-naked choke.

In the co-main event, Kai Asakura was crowned the Rizin bantamweight champion after flooring Juan Archuleta with a vicious knee to the body. Archuleta had missed weight for Rizin 45, forcing him to be stripped of his title and leaving him in no position to win the match. Despite this setback, he still went for it in a wild brawl in Round 1, ultimately receiving a yellow card for landing punches after the bell.

The event also marked the retirement bout for Miyuu Yamamoto, who took on Seika Izawa in a three-round, non-title affair. Yamamoto, a former multi-time amateur wrestling champion and sister of late K-1 and UFC star Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, had previously fought for the promotion’s super atomweight title.

Other notable fights included a head kick knockout by Mikio Ueda of heavyweight Tsuyoshi Sudario, and slick submissions by Shinobu Ota and Igor Tanabe. Ren Hiramoto also put on a show, beating YA-MAN in a unanimous decision.

Rizin 45 was a fitting end to the year, showcasing the best of mixed martial arts with a night of wild finishes. The event was broadcast on FITE, with English commentary available for international viewers. As we look forward to the next year of fights, the performances at Rizin 45 have set a high bar for what’s to come.

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