By the Numbers
Kyoji Horiguchi is 13-1 overall, 2-0 in the UFC with 8 KO/TKO's, 1 submission win, and 4 decision victories. Jon Delos Reyes is 7-3 overall, 0-1 in the UFC with 3 KO/TKO's, and 4 submission victories. Reyes is a +425 underdog.
A People's History
It's amazing to think that Kyoji's trainer, Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto, is 14 years older than him. Yes, now's a good time for everyone who followed Kid's career to look in the mirror and check for crow's feet. What excites fans the most about him is that he really lives up to the image observers have of that Krazy Bee style. He's faced quality opposition as well during his seven fight win streak that includes names like Ian Loveland, Darrel Montague, Shintaro Ishiwatari, Hiromasa Ogikubo, and Hadairo.
Delos Reyes has been getting experience with Pacific Xtreme Combat in Guam where the competition has been much easier with names like Virgil Ortega (0-3), and Derrick Rangamar (3-13). You can't begrudge the fighter for who the promoter puts in front of you, so long as you understand that your wins are as much a reflection of the competition as your abilities.
Idiot's Guide and Analysis
Beneath the questionable history is a fighter who is reasonably talented. Reyes is athletic enough that he can scurry his way out of trouble, and he throws a solid left hook when keeping it on the feet. He's good in top control as well, but his problem is one that many fighters have: lack of calculated movement. Action happens too fast in MMA for you to rely on pure reaction. You have to make successful predictions. Reyes doesn't predict well what his opponents tend to do which is what makes this a real lion catching its prey bout. Hell I can practically see the slight coat of joyful tear of ecstasy in Kyoji's eye ala Anthony Hopkins from the Edge (skip to the end: not big on these remixes either).
The reason why I and everyone else aren't giving Reyes a chance is because Kyoji is elite. Whether or not that will translate into contendership is another matter. I talked about movement, and it's something Horiguchi does well. He covers long distances by lunging with a big straight right hand at times, but unlike most fighters who lunge in for punches, he immediately retains his base, staying upright for more combinations. If there's a weakness here it's that his forward striking style leaves him susceptible to getting taken down, but sometimes he doesn't have to worry when he's landing kicks and punches on his opponent. Raw power is a wonderful trait to have at Flyweight.
His grappling is pretty good, although clearly not good enough against guys like Demetrious Johnson. However, at 23 years of age, he can potentially close that gap. Facing Masakatsu Ueda so early in his career was just an unfortunate matter of timing, and even so, not many fighters in the UFC can replicate Ueda's odd hybrid wrestling/grappling style.
Kyoji's development will be fascinating to watch, even though we won't learn much from from this bout. He'll strike his way into takedowns if not force inefficient scrambles from Reyes, and win via top control.
Kyoji Horiguchi via TKO (ground and pound), round 2.