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RIZIN 42: Kai Asakura and Roberto de Souza look to show why they still rule the roost

RIZIN returns with a fight between bantamweight champion Kai Asakura and surging contender Yuki Motoya in the headline spot. Check out our preview, key stats and suggested bet for the fight.

Despite the main event being a non-title match, both men are serious competitors who fight with everything they have regardless of a title being on the line.
Asakura is not the only fighter with RIZIN gold in their trophy cabinet, on the undercard lightweight champion Roberto "Satoshi" de Souza also looks to make a winning return as he faces off against Spike "The Alpha Ginger" Carlyle in a non-title match.
The undercard also features UFC veterans and two kickboxing matches, one of which sees the return of former K-1 Grand Prix winner and Muay Thai legend Buakaw.

John Dodson vs Tatsuki Saomoto

Former UFC title challenger and winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 14 John Dodson looks for a successful sophomore outing, as he returns to RIZIN to face prospect Tatsuki Saomoto.
Dodson was one of the standouts in what would become an excellent Ultimate Fighter draft class, stopping future champion TJ Dillashaw in the finale to lift the famous trophy and enter the UFC on a high.
His time in the UFC would see him compete for the title twice at flyweight (losing both contests to Demetrious Johnson by unanimous decision) and become a staple of the bantamweight division, however a 2-3 record in his final years with the promotion prompted them to axe Dodson after nine years in the UFC.
Where Dodson is a colourful UFC veteran who all the fans know, his opponent Tatsuki Saomoto couldn't be any further from that.
Saomoto is a prospect who has never fought outside of Japan, currently sporting a 16-2 record at 26 years old, he is still yet to approach his prime in MMA.
His fighting style is also opposite to Dodson's, where the American is lightening fast on his feet looking to land a killer blow, Saomoto is much more measured and patient in his striking, often looking to take his opponent down if possible and use his cardio to outwork them.
Despite his grappling heavy offense Saomoto has real power when he needs it, as he proved when he knockout out Yusaku Nakamura with a gorgeous left hook in their match at RIZIN 23.

Key stats

John Dodson has never been finished in his career, all 13 of his losses have come at the judges' scorecards.
Tatsuki Saomoto has 13 career wins by decision, his last finish came when he knocked out Nakamura back in 2020.

Suggested bet

Fight to go the distance - Yes.

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Buakaw Banchamek vs Rukiya Anpo

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Buakaw Banchamek is a Muay Thai legend, his record is exceptional, his level of competition is of the highest pedigree and his fighting style is enthralling to watch.
But being a legend does not make you unbeatable, and in opponent Rukiya Anpo, he faces a man with K-1 pedigree who will push him to his very limit.
Buakaw's run to the K-1 titles in 2004 and 2006 are the stuff of legend, from being an unknown prospect to defeating the tournament favourite in 2004 and avenging his controversial loss to Andy Souwer by knockout in the 2006 final to become the first man to ever reclaim the title.
Sporting a record of 240-24-13, Buakaw is one of Muay Thai's modern greats, but at 40 years old his career is winding down as he faces a new chapter in his life.
His opponent Rukiya Anpo is also a veteran of K-1 but at a vastly different time, where the promotion once stood tall as the premier organization for stand-up martial arts, it now sees competition from elsewhere and diminishing foreign viewership.
None of these disrespects the quality of Anpo, "The Demolition Man" is the former K-1 super lightweight champion and runner up of the 2021 welterweight grand prix, showing off his silky striking in his last outing against RISE super lightweight champion Kosei Yamada.
Anpo must utilize his karate style and stunning kicks to defeat Buakaw, however if Buakaw utilizes his leg kicks to good effect and restricts Anpo's movement, it could be a long night for "The Demolition Man".

Key stats

Buakaw has only competed once in an official contest since 2019, defeating Dmitry Varats in 2022 by decision.
Anpo's last loss came from his opponent brutalizing his legs to weaken him before securing three knockdowns, an area where Buakaw excels.

Suggested bet

Buakaw to win by decision.

Roberto de Souza vs Spike Carlyle

Rizin's current lightweight king, Roberto "Satoshi" de Souza may not be putting his title on the line for this bout with Spike Carlyle, but the Brazilian is just as hungry to secure a win and line himself up for a defense later this year.
The last time "Satoshi" stepped into the ring was as a member of the RIZIN team who fought on the Bellator vs RIZIN New Years Eve card in 2022. That night Bellator took the spoils securing a clean sweep of five wins, leaving proud champions such as de Souza with much to consider.
Now facing another Bellator fighter, de Souza has a chance to wipe the slate clean after a not so happy new year.
Carlyle is the clear underdog in this bout, a former UFC fighter and now a contender in Bellator, his solid career wins and workman-like attitude to fighting have landed him opposite de Souza in a chance for the biggest win of his career.
A slick finisher, whose four career losses all came at the hands of the judges, Carlyle is must see TV with impressive wins using both his striking and submission skills.
Those submission skills will be under severe examination against de Souza, whose own grappling accolades include wins over high level black belts Lucas Lepri and Davi Ramos, which secured him gold medals at the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Cup.
If the fight goes to the ground de Souza will have a clear advantage, although Carlyle has never been finished in his career, he has been defeated by worse grapplers than "Satoshi" and will have to keep his wits about him if the fight ends up on the matt.

Key stats

Both men last fought against AJ McKee with both men losing unanimous decisions.
"Satoshi" has never won a fight by decision.

Suggested bet

Roberto de Souza to win by submission.

Naoki Inoue vs Juan Archuleta

The final UFC veteran on the card, Japan's Naoki Inoue never got a fair chance inside the octagon but in his time away he has become a bantamweight to watch, and he hopes to make more attractive viewing as he faces Juan Archuleta.
Entering the UFC as an undefeated prospect, Inoue defeated Carls John de Tomas in his opening bout for the company but would come unstuck against future top 10 fighter Matt Schnell in his sophomore outing.
Unfortunately for Inoue, he was a flyweight during that time of his career, and at that time the UFC were seriously considering closing the division, so he was sent to the regional circuit in anticipation of its closure.
Four years later, the UFC still has its flyweight division, but Inoue is thriving away from the octagon currently sporting a 7-2 record since leaving and securing five of those wins by finish (including a soccer kick KO, illegal in the UFC but very much legal in RIZIN).
By contrast Juan Archuleta has had a much more stable home life in Bellator, since debuting in the organization back in 2018 Archuleta has competed exclusively for them, working his way up the ladder to receive title shots at both featherweight and bantamweight.
Despite winning neither title shot Archuleta is a serious contender in Bellator with great wrestling and striking making him a tough night out for any opponent.
His only experience of RIZIN was also on the New Years Eve card, where he defeated So Chul Kim by split decision and helped Bellator achieve their clean sweep.
If Inoue continues his good form, then Archuleta will be in big trouble, his ability to fight off his back and submit opponents could result in Archuleta needing to use his kickboxing to upset the hometown crowd and defeat the Japanese warrior.

Key stats

Inoue's only career knockout was his soccer kick finish of Shintaro Ishiwatari in what was the latter's final professional bout.
Archuleta has not been submitted since 2015.

Suggested bet

Juan Archuleta to win by decision.

Kai Asakura vs Yuki Motoya

RIZIN's favourite son returns, Kai Asakura has become the face of RIZIN in recent years being a highly successful Japanese talent who has held the bantamweight championship.
He and brother Mikuru have been staples of RIZIN since 2017, dominating the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, however its Kai who managed to step up a level as he captured the bantamweight title with his victory over Hiromasa Ougikubo at RIZIN 23.
Asakura has remained near the top of the division since losing his belt to Kyoji Horiguchi, but with the title now vacant once again he has a real chance to win it once again if he can get past Yuki Motoya.
That is far easier said than done though, Motoya is a longtime veteran of the Japanese MMA scene with a 33-10 record, and he has faced every challenger across both RIZIN and DEEP in his quest for supremacy.
Motoya's current five fight winning streak includes wins over Olympic silver medalist in Greco Roman wrestling Shinobu Ota, and former UFC challenger Rogerio Bontorin who was a staple in the top 10 of MMA's leading promotion.
Both men will see this fight as very important for their careers going forward.
For Asakura, a win here puts him back as the front runner for the vacant RIZIN belt, he knows his competition will be tough whoever he faces, but a dominant win over a veteran like Motoya will assert himself as a key player.
Motoya will consider this a chance at superstardom, Asakura shot to fame in Japan when he won the belt, and a career of hard work would look even better with the belt wrapped around his waist.

Key stats

This will be Asakura's first fight since losing the 2021 grand prix final to Hiromasa Ougikubo.
Motoya fought four times last year winning all of them, he won three by decision and one by knockout.

Suggested bet

Kai Asakura to win by knockout.

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