After making history by securing both the RIZIN and Bellator bantamweight championships, Kyoji Horiguchi suffered a horrible loss at the hands of Kai Asakura. This led to Horiguchi relinquishing both the RIZIN and Bellator belts when it was discovered he had an ACL tear.
And now, the former king is back to earn his belt back against Asakura, and there’s no better occasion than the upcoming RIZIN extravaganza on New Year’s Eve.
The bout was announced this week and will be another title defense for Asakura (16-2). Since their first encounter, Asakura has remained extra busy suffering a loss at the hands of current UFC fighter Manel Kape, but regaining the title after Kape vacated it with a win over grappling ace Hiromasa Ogikubo and a most violent stellar title defense against Shoji Maruyama.
This will be Horiguchi’s (28-3) first fight since the Asakura loss in August of 2018, and the former UFC title challenger had previously blazed a path in RIZIN with 10 straight wins after his UFC release. That includes two wins over Darrion Caldwell, retiring Ian McCall, defeating Hideo Tokoro, Manel Kape and Yuki Motoya. How he’ll be after such a serious injury and recovery process is a major question mark, as is the case any time a fighter undergoes a procedure like this.
Having both of them injury-free (or as close to it as they can be) should make for far more intrigue this time around, as both are devastating strikers that rarely have an unexciting outing.
Follow along with Bloody Elbow as we continue to update as more bouts are announced for this event.