Kyoji Horiguchi reportedly eyes UFC return weeks after winning RIZIN flyweight title

By Josh Evanoff - January 11, 2024

RIZIN flyweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi reportedly plans to return to the UFC.

Kyoji Horiguchi

‘The Typhoon’ is fresh off his return at RIZIN 45 in December. There, Kyoji Horiguchi fought Makamoto Takahashi, in a rematch of their July bout. Their first bout for the vacant Bellator flyweight title ended after just seconds, due to an eye poke. Due to the Scott Coker company being bought out by the PFL, they instead ran it back for RIZIN gold this time around.

Ultimately, the rematch was worth the wait for Kyoji Horiguchi. He dominated, to win vacant RIZIN flyweight gold by second-round submission. Following the victory, he proposed to his longtime fiancee, and she accepted. Just a few weeks on, it seems that the Japanese fighter is ready for another life-changing decision.

According to a recent report from Yahoo Japan, Kyoji Horiguchi is eyeing a return to the UFC. The report specified that he had already spoken to RIZIN President Nobuyuki Sakakibara, who signed off on the move. As of now, the only thing holding the move back is his contract status with the PFL.

The Donn Davis-led promotion famously bought out Bellator in November. While Kyoji Horiguchi is largely a RIZIN talent, he still had a deal with Scott Coker prior to the merger. If the Japanese fighter can get clearance to leave the PFL, he would love to return to the UFC.



PhotoCred: Cageside Press

Kyoji Horiguchi reportedly plans to return to the UFC weeks after winning RIZIN gold

“ I don’t have anyone in particular that I want to fight. I really want to win the [UFC] belt, that’s all I’m thinking about.” Kyoji Horiguchi stated via a translator. “…I’ve checked with my manager about that [release], but I haven’t heard anything yet. So, there’s a lot of uncertainty around that, so I’d like to go through the formalities to go to the UFC as soon as I figure that out.” (h/t Yahoo Japan)

He responded to a question about fighting UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja, “Of course, I think we can win. When I take on a challenge, I want people to change. I don’t like doing things with my friends, so I want them to change. But in the worst-case scenario, I have no choice but to try. Aiming for the same place.”

“As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know the timing or the plan at all. Kyoji Horiguchi concluded. “But I’m still under contract with Bellator, but I can’t help but clearly state the name of the UFC.”

In the event Kyoji Horiguchi returns to the UFC, it will be his first appearance in the octagon since 2016. The Japanese fighter famously dominated in the promotion, going 7-1. That one loss was a submission loss at the hands of Demetrious Johnson in 2015, in a bid for flyweight gold.

What do you make of this news coming out of RIZIN? Do you want to see Kyoji Horiguchi return to the UFC?


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