Champion Kyoji Horiguchi returns in Rizin title fight

7 Mar , 2021,
A. J. Riot

Coach Mike Brown had a difficult decision to make. It was in early November when the Japanese government announced that only certain select noncitizens could enter the country for business purposes, if they would quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. That meant Brown, a renowned American MMA coach, was actually able to corner Kyoji Horiguchi in the main event of Rizin which took place on 31 of December at Saitama Super Arena.

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It’s obvious that Brown really wanted to corner Horiguchi, who returned from a knee surgery and who would be competing for the Rizin bantamweight title which he once held, in a fight that would be broadcast very early in the US time zones. However, an even higher-profile ATT fighter, Dustin Poirier, was in training camp as well for his blockbuster UFC 257 event with Conor McGregor, which took place on January 23rd in Dubai.

Brown stated that the biggest issue for him was that Poirier fight coming next month.

He then decided to fly to Japan and quarantine for 14 days, therefore he missed Christmas at home – and the middle of Poirier’s training camp. He said that Horiguchi deserves that level of loyalty. It’s surely an important fight. He’s someone who puts everything in. He’s highly dedicated hard worker, as focused as someone he’s never had seen.

ATT is one of the world’s top and most known MMA gyms, and Brown believed that Horiguchi is a very hard worker. He stated that he was very surprised that he can do as much as he does. Horiguchi puts in more volume than anyone else. He does that two or even three times a day, every day, for weeks and weeks. And people think that it’s not going to last but, fortunately, it does.

It’s obvious that it isn’t just the hard work that sets Horiguchi apart. He’s one of the best lighter-weight fighters worldwide. He left the UFC, where he used to compete, for the flyweight championship, as someone who’s a free agent on a three-fight winning in the year 2017 in order to fight for Rizin in Japan. He won the Rizin bantamweight grand prix that year, then the bantamweight title in 2018. Then in 2019 he won the Bellator bantamweight title.

Horiguchi was on a 13-fight winning streak before being knocked out by Kai Asakura in a nontitle fight at Rizin 18th in August of 2019. The two of them then were set for a rematch last New Year’s Eve. However, Horiguchi was forced to withdraw and vacate with the Bellator and Rizin belts. The second bout with Asakura happened in December 31st of last year.

Horiguchi said that before the injury, he was at a great point where he even received two belts. He was starting his own mission. And that’s when he got his injury. It just stalled and halted everything. That fight with Asakura was his first step to get back back where he back, which meant to go back to the starting line.

He had only lost to 2 men since 2012: Asakura and also Demetrious Johnson, who’s the legendary former UFC flyweight champion. It’s obvious that the Asakura defeat was on his mind for a long-time.