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Rizin champ Kai Asakura signing with UFC

Etsuo Hara / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Rizin FF bantamweight champion Kai Asakura is vacating his title and joining the UFC roster, he announced Sunday.

The UFC has yet to confirm the news. Asakura didn't reveal a date or opponent for his debut.

"I think there will be an announcement from the UFC soon, but it's official that I am going," Asakura said in Japanese on the Rizin 47 broadcast in Tokyo.

Asakura, 30, had been in Rizin FF since 2017 and was one of the faces of the promotion. Asakura, a two-time bantamweight champion, defeated the likes of Rizin FF flyweight champ Kyoji Horiguchi, UFC flyweight contender Manel Kape, Juan Archuleta, and Hiromasa Ougikubo throughout his 16-fight stint in which he went 13-3.

Asakura has been a pro MMA fighter since 2012.

"I believe that thanks to Rizin, I, who was originally no one, was recognized as a fighter, a martial artist, a man," Asakura said. "And last year, on New Year's Eve, it was (Rizin FF president Nobuyuki Sakakibara) who accepted my selfish request to go to the UFC without a single defense. I would like to thank Mr. Sakakibara from the bottom of my heart for his support."

Asakura joins a stacked UFC bantamweight division that includes champion Sean O'Malley, Merab Dvalishvili, Cory Sandhagen, Petr Yan, Marlon Vera, and Deiveson Figueiredo. Asakura vowed to rise to the top of the weight class on the biggest stage in MMA.

"I will definitely become a champion at UFC," Asakura said. "And I will bring fans from all over the world with me."

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