RIZIN: Yarennoka! Retrospective: Jae Hoon Moon vs. Kai Asakura
At ‘RIZIN: Yarennoka!’ later this month, we will see a short but sweet fight card topped by MMA legends Kawajiri and Kitaoka. But the undercard features two stellar rematches, one of which being the extremely compelling match-up; Jae Hoon Moon vs. Kai Asakura.
With their NYE rematch just two weeks away, let’s take a look back at their first meeting from June 6, 2017. Before doing so, the other rematch on Yarennoka! will feature Kana Watanabe and Shizuka Sugiyama. MMASucka did a Retrospective on their first meeting as well!
Heading into the contest, it was a .500 record having Jae Hoon Moon who sat at 9-9 as a pro taking on Kai Asakura who was unbeaten in eight professional bouts.
Both fighters were highly touted strikers. The technique of Moon was seemingly leaps above that of Asakura, but the 24-year-old seemingly possessed a big-time power advantage over his 18-fight veteran counterpart.
Jae Hoon Moon had fought in many mixed martial arts tournaments before this contest, but he was always eliminated before the finals. Meaning he never quite reached championship potential. Kai Asakura, on the other hand, was a former champion of The Outsider who had made a name for himself in Asia as one of the premier up-and-coming knockout artists.
Both men rush to the center of the cage immediately following that intense staredown, and they spend a bit of time moving around exchanging kicks to the midsection and legs. About 35-seconds into the fight, Moon throws his first big shot, launching an overhand-right at the chin of Kai Asakura. It mostly finds the mark, but Asakura isn’t even phased as he whiffs on a headkick seconds later.
Moon continues to look for a counter shot, working from a distance and firing off the odd legkick. But Asakura is in his face and forcing Moon’s back to be near the fence at all times no matter how much the South Korean tries to laterally move away from it. After a few small exchanges, the two taunt one another before Jae Hoon Moon rushes in looking for big shots.
That exchange got the crowd on its feet, and the fact it was their countrymen on the offensive certainly helped. Asakura continues to pressure, throwing single punches at the head and body of Moon. But the South Korean is using a very right-hand/legkick heavy gameplan and he’s beginning to land at a higher rate than he was 90-seconds prior.
Jae Hoon Moon finds success with a nice 4-5 punch combo, and he’s back to taunting Asakura whilst being just a foot away from the heavy-hitter. Moon is avoiding the power of Asakura excellently whilst landing virtually everything he throws.
To Kai Asakura’s credit, he is eating some seriously heavy leather as the fight progresses. Moon has found a home for some very big shots, and Asakura has not slowed down his pace or pressure one bit. With about 90-seconds remaining in the opening round, it is clear the Japanese young gun is losing his patience, however.
Asakura pressures Moon to the cage and attacks with a big flying knee. The South Korean avoided it about as good as he can, but Asakura still made contact. He then follows up a nice straight to the body with a completely unexpected cartwheel kick. This forces Moon to engage, and another exchange occurs.
They cap off round one with multiple nice exchanges, but it’s Moon who gets the last good connect of the round courtesy of his signature overhand right.
The second round begins similarly to how the first did. The two meet in the middle, do some circling, and exchange leg kicks. But the punches come into play even sooner than they did in the previous round. About a minute into the round, Kai Asakura lands arguably his best punch of the fight thus far as he connects clean on a left-hook. It didn’t do much of any damage to Moon, but considering Kai’s lack of success with his punches in round one, it was a solid moment nonetheless.
Moon responds by doing what he had been doing for the six minutes prior, moving in and out with his slick footwork to connect on leg kicks, left-hooks, and overhands. This leads to yet another big exchange that sees both men land big shots, but again Moon gets the better of it.
Mid-way through the second round, Moon eats a shot to the groin that forces a brief break in the action. But, it picks right back up! The slick striking exchanges continue, and amongst this, we see Jae Hoon Moon – a boxer – successfully land a nice leg/body switchkick.
With just over a minute remaining in the round, Moon connects clean with a 1-2 and for the first time in the fight visibly stuns Kai Asakura. But the Japanese fighter showcases some insane recovery, seemingly appearing unphased and continuing to throw punches at Moon within barely a second of being stung.
For the final minute of round two, Kai Asakura continues to push the pace and keep Moon on his back foot. He’s successfully throwing some nice punch combinations, but the South Korean’s defense is too good for much of anything to connect.
However, considering that right-hand Moon tagged him with towards the end of the round, the fact Asakura was able arguably to win the final seconds of round two just shows you the kind of fighter he is. Just relentless with his forward pressure.
I’m not going to recap this third round, actually.
It’s what the previous two have been – just turned up a notch. Truly an excellent fight here. Before the third round starts, they show RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara in the crowd observing the contest. Fittingly, and unsurprisingly, he signed both men after this war.
Mid-way through the round, Jae Hoon Moon connects on a left-hand that floors Kai Asakura before landing a couple follow up shots on the ground to knock his undefeated foe unconscious!
RESULT: Jae Hoon Moon def. Kai Asakura via KO (Punches) at 2:38 of Round 1
Jae Hoon Moon:
After handing Asakura his first pro defeat, Jae Hoon Moon improved to 10-9 as a professional as he sports arguably the most deceiving record in MMA. As previously stated, with Sakakibara in attendance, Moon was signed to RIZIN Fighting Federation shortly after this bout.
The South Korean was given a slot in the loaded 16-man bantamweight grand-prix. He met Kevin Petshi in the quarter-finals four months after the Asakura win. His bout with Petshi went to a decision, but Moon ended up on the wrong end of a very controversial call.
He returned to RIZIN on NYE last year and defeated UFC-veteran Anthony Birchak. Moon’s sole 2018 contest was an absolute battle with Yuki Motoya at DEEP 84 that saw Motoya come out the victor by way of second-round stoppage.
This bout had the honors of being one of the last ever to be held inside the famed Differ Ariake arena, as DEEP 84 was the venues last MMA show ever. Jae Hoon Moon currently sits at 11-11, sporting a similar .500 record to when he fought and beat Asakura the first time.
On that same card in which Moon defeated Birchak, the young Kai Asakura made his RIZIN debut as well immediately following the previous defeat again Moon. He showed the audience what exactly he was known for, absolutely annihilating Kizaemon Saiga with a brutal KO in round two.
In May of 2018 at RIZIN 10, Asakura fought Manel Kape in a sure-fire war. And it was exactly that. For the first time in his career, Kai Asakura went the distance. Many thought Kape edged him out, but Asakura was granted the victory.
Kai Asakura’s most recent outing came at the landmark RIZIN 13 show in September. He took on the very dangerous Topnoi tiger Muay Thai, employing a smart, tactical gameplan to defeat Topnoi. Surprisingly using primarily his rarely seen wrestling game.
The 25-year-old sports a record of 11-1, defeating every opponent he has faced, except for Jae Hoon Moon.
See the rematch at ‘RIZIN: Yarennoka!’ live from Japan on December 31 ahead of the stacked RIZIN 14.