When Rizin bantamweight champ Kyoji Horiguchi revealed that he was vacating his title to test the waters of free agency, fans were curious to see his next move. As it turns out, he is now fighting under the Bellator banner, although his time in Japan is not finished.
Widely considered to be one of the best fighters not in the UFC, Horiguchi revealed that he was giving up his belt in Rizin, to test the market after his contract had expired. This was a big move that led to speculation as to where he would be going next, and if a return to the UFC was in the cards.
Now it seems that he has found his new home, and it is right where he wants to be. According to a Twitter post from Scott Coker, Kyoji has now signed to Bellator, where has competed in cross promoted events in the past, even winning the promotion’s 135lb title.
“We have signed former @BellatorMMA Bantamweight World Champion @Kyoji1012 Horiguchi and I can’t wait to see him compete in our stacked bantamweight division,” Coker wrote.
We have signed former @BellatorMMA Bantamweight World Champion @Kyoji1012 Horiguchi and I can’t wait to see him compete in our stacked bantamweight division. pic.twitter.com/m2YKHJf2J0
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) September 10, 2021
Kyoji Horiguchi Will Moonlight In Rizin
Just because Kyoji Horiguchi has signed a deal with Bellator, does not mean that his time competing in Japan is over. In fact, Rizin is hoping for the complete opposite, considering he is a popular fighter in that region of the world.
According to a statement from the Japanese promotion, the plan is for Kyoji to compete in Japan once a year. While this is intriguing, it is not the first time that Bellator and Rizin have worked together in a cross promotional capacity.
この度、RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATIONとBellatorとの取り組みおよび現・RIZINバンタム級チャンピオンの堀口恭司に関して、下記の通り皆様にご報告申し上げます。@BellatorMMA
— RIZIN FF OFFICIAL (@rizin_PR) September 10, 2021
With restrictions on travel being what they are at the moment, it will be interesting to see if Kyoji Horiguchi is actually able to compete in Rizin in the immediate future. Either way, he is an exciting edition to the stacked bantamweight division that Bellator has to offer.