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Ji-Yong Yang embraces huge underdog role in RIZIN 36 main event: ‘I’m gonna beat Kai Asakura’

“Beating Kai will place me somewhere above and I’m ready for the RIZIN and Road FC titles at the same time.”

It’s not often that fighters get to debut in a new promotion as part of a main event against one of the best in the world. South Korea’s Ji-Yong Yang gets to do just that this weekend (Sat., July 2, 2022) at RIZIN 36 in Okinawa, Japan.

Yang enters the promotion after two strong performances in Korea’s Road Fighting Championship and now finds himself tasked with a former world champion. Welcoming Yang to the RIZIN ring will be one of the country’s biggest superstars and most dangerous Bantamweights, Kai Asakura (19-4).

Despite just about every aspect being in his opponent’s favor, Yang isn’t at all deterred by the uphill battle that awaits him.

“I’m preparing a lot of different things,” Yang told MMA Mania on BROADENED HORIZIN. “Of course, a lot of people, including Kai, think that I don’t have enough experience, don’t have enough skill. A lot of people will think that I’m not at the level to compete with Kai but I’m preparing a lot of different things and I’m gonna do my best to beat Kai and I’m thinking in a lot of different dimensions where Kai is going to attack, I’ll be ready for it.

“People may think that I’m the underdog because Kai has more experience than I do, but look at my record,” he continued. “I’m 4-0 undefeated and once we start the fight he will see. MMA fights, even though 90 percent of people think Kai will win, we gotta see. I always think it’s 50-50 and I’m ready, I’m confident I’m gonna beat Kai.”

While Yang is fully focused on his career in MMA, he has other obligations back home that keep him busy. Working on a tangerine farm, Yang notes that he’s never done any weight training in his life. So, all the strength he’s shown off in his career is that ever-mythical farmer strength that’s often talked about.

A win over Asakura is a huge deal no matter who does it. For Yang, he can automatically launch himself into the discussions as one of 135 pounds’ best and a title opportunity would presumably not be far off.

“Beating Kai will place me somewhere above and I’m ready for the RIZIN and Road FC titles at the same time,” Yang said. “Any title is meaningful for me and I’m ready for them.”

Watch the full episode in the video embedded above or you can listen on Spotify.