Former Rizin FF super atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki produced a dominant performance to outstrike, then outgrapple Deep Jewels atomweight champion Tomo Maesawa and restate her championship credentials in the promotion’s 48-kilo (105.8-pound) division.
Hamasaki (20-3) lost her title to Seo Hee Ham on New Year’s Eve last year at Rizin FF 20, but she bounced back in fine style to submit Maesawa (13-11) via second-round Kimura and keep herself in the mix for a rematch with the South Korean champ.
Hamasaki dropped Maesawa early in Round 1, but the 32-year-old immediately bounced back up and returned fire with strikes of her own in a breathless start to the matchup. Working out of the southpaw stance, Hamasaki slowed the tempo and started to pick off her shorter opponent, using her height and reach advantage to connect with her strikes almost.
In the final minute of the round, Hamasaki managed to trip Maesawa to the mat and immediately went on the attack as she established side control and worked for an armbar. But the Deep Jewels champion fought hard to avoid the submission and survived the round.
The action went to the mat much earlier in Round 2, as Hamasaki again worked her way towards an armbar attempt. Maesawa again attempted to use her strength to hold off the submission, but this time Hamasaki wouldn’t be denied, as she switched techniques and locked up the fight-ending Kimura to claim the 20th win of her career.