Perhaps unsurprisingly, Japan's Kyoji Horiguchi is changing weight classes. The 23-year-old won his UFC debut last month in spectacular fashion as a bantamweight, but his 2nd bout with the promotion will take place in the flyweight division. Fight Sport Asia first reported that Horiguchi will fight Cariaso at UFC 169 in Newark, New Jersey.
Horiguchi (12-1) debuted at UFC 166 against Dustin Pague, and showcased his lethal hands with a 2nd round TKO of the TUF 14 contestant. It was Horiguchi's 6th straight win overall and his 8th KO/TKO win in 12 victories. His best win to date is a decision victory over former WEC and UFC fighter Ian Loveland on Christmas Eve 2012.
Cariaso (15-5) recovered from a 2 fight losing skid to stop Iliarde Santos in Brazil by TKO at UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri. His only losses in the WEC and UFC are to Renan Barao, Michael McDonald, John Moraga, and Jussier Formiga. That's the interim bantamweight champion (Barao), the recent bantamweight title challenger (McDonald), recent flyweight title challenger (Moraga), and current top 10 flyweight (Formiga).
All things considered, Cariaso is somewhat of a gatekeeper, so if Horiguchi can beat him, he becomes an instant title contender in the division. It's a good fight on paper and a good challenge for the Japanese as he looks for a 2-0 start to his UFC career.
UFC 169, scheduled for February 1st at the Prudential Center, also hosts the bantamweight title unification fight between Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao, plus a featherweight title fight co-main event between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas.