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Top flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi signs with Rizin

The flyweight star is leaving the UFC coming off 3 straight wins.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Horiguchi vs Bagautinov Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Kyoji Horiguchi didn’t stay long in the open market, as the Japanese star has signed a new deal to return home and compete with Rizin Fighting Federation. Promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara has announced the news on Monday, saying that the contract with the 26-year-old UFC contender has been finalized.

This past week, it was reported that Horiguchi was a free agent after his UFC contract expired and the two parties couldn’t come to terms on a new deal.

Horiguchi has compiled a record of 18-2 in his career. He is coming off 3-straight wins in the UFC, and has gone 7-1 overall in over 3 years with the promotion. His only loss in that stretch is to current champion and top pound-for-pound fighter, Demetrious Johnson back in 2015.

Not only has Horiguchi established himself as a legitimate top contender in the UFC, at 26-years-old, the Japanese flyweight is also still young and developing. He was ranked as #3 in the UFC rankings before his contract expired, and considering his potential and appeal in the Japanese market, it was somewhat surprising to see the promotion let him walk.

Related: Editorial: Is the end near for the UFC’s flyweight division?

Apart from Horiguchi, the UFC has also parted ways with two other ranked flyweights in Ali Bagautinov and Zach Machovsky.

Horiguchi is expected to make his Rizin debut sometime around April, with an opponent to be revealed in the coming days.

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