Kyoji Horiguchi thrilled to compete for Bellator’s inaugural flyweight title

The “weight” is over for Bellator to fly.

For the primary time since its inception 14 years in the past — and 11 years after the UFC grew to become the primary main North American MMA group so as to add the boys’s 125-pound weight class — Bellator will award a flyweight championship when Kyoji Horiguchi and Makoto “Shinryu” Takahashi sq. off at Bellator X Rizin 2 on Saturday (11 p.m. Japanese, Showtime) at Saitama Tremendous Enviornment in Japan.

The matchup pits Horiguchi (31-5, 19 finishes), a Bellator fighter who nonetheless holds Rizin’s bantamweight crown from his time with the Japan-based promotion, in opposition to Rizin’s younger rising star Shinryu (16-1-1, 4 finishes) within the cross-promotional matchup.

Not like the first Bellator X Rizin event, which was staged solely in a hoop this previous New 12 months’s Eve, this weekend’s return to Japan might be contested in a cage — earlier than an intermission permits for a change to a hoop for a further Rizin occasion.

Kyoji Horiguchi (again) defeated Hiromasa Ougikubo in his return to flyweight on the first Bellator x Rizin occasion on New 12 months’s Eve 2022.
Rizin FF

Horiguchi, who in 2015 challenged flyweight nice Demetrious Johnson for the UFC title, has fought largely at 135 kilos since departing the UFC with a 7-1 mark with the promotion from 2013-16.

However, the 32-year-old made a profitable return to 125 kilos along with his third profession victory over “The Final Fighter” alumnus Hiromasa Ougikubo, incomes a unanimous choice on the preliminary Bellator x Rizin occasion.

“I don’t really feel completely different,” Horiguchi instructed The Put up throughout a latest Zoom name concerning how he felt returning to the decrease weight for the primary time in 5 years. “Similar factor: 125, 135. Exact same.”

The 13-year veteran stated he’s happy to be part of the inaugural Bellator flyweight title combat, which comes three months after he was scheduled to fulfill fellow ex-UFC flyweight title challenger Ray Borg at 125 kilos.

Borg, who’s had a prolonged battle in opposition to the size that has not at all times gone his means, confronted weight administration points, and the combat was scrapped on the day of weigh-ins.

It stands to purpose the winner would have moved on to this championship combat, however Borg’s subsequent launch from Bellator and Horiguchi’s standing as an elite fighter at each 125 and 135 kilos appeared to make him a no brainer for the historic combat.

Horiguchi’s 23-year-old opponent Shinryu received’t be almost as acquainted to Western combat followers, however some could recall his Cage Fury FC flyweight title victory in Florida final November when he submitted Diego Paiva within the closing spherical of their four-round championship combat.

The victory marked the third time in his final 4 bouts, and fourth out of six, that Shinryu picked up a win by way of submission.

“He’s fighter,” Horiguchi says of his upcoming opponent and fellow Japanese nationwide. “But it surely doesn’t matter. I’ll beat him up.”

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