RIZIN FF and Bellator bantamweight champion, Kyoji Horiguchi returned to the cage in the main event of RIZIN 18.
There, the champ was taking Kai Asakura in a non-title bout.
Why the title was not on the line was unknown but RIZIN FF CEO, Nobuyuki Sakakibara said this when the fight was announced:
“Kyoji Horiguchi may just be the best bantamweight in the world at the moment,” Sakakibara said at a press conference. “And out of all the options we had, I do believe that Kai Asakura is the best option who would be able to fight Horiguchi with the most motivation and determination. He’s young, hungry and has been our rising bantamweight and most of all, he will be taking on the greatest fighter in his hometown in front of hundreds of his supporters.”
It turns out, that was true as Asakura knocked out Horiguchi in just 68 seconds in a massive upset. The champ was 28-2 at that point and had never been knocked out before. The only time he was finished is when Demetrious Johnson submitted him at UFC 186.
Asakura came hot out of the gate and landed a hard punch that dropped Kyoji Horiguchi. He then continued to press forward and knocked the champ out cold with a plethora of strikes.
Watch the full fight here:
Asakura came into this fight at 12-1 with seven wins by knockout. The 25-year-old’s biggest win to date was back at RIZIN 10 where he beat Manel Kape by split-decision.
Horiguchi, meanwhile, was coming off of a unanimous decision win over Darrion Caldwell to win the Bellator bantamweight title. Before that, the 28-year-old beat Ben Nguyen by TKO at RIZIN 15 and submitted Darrion Caldwell at RIZIN 14 to win the vacant bantamweight title.
With the loss, the expectation is Kyoji Horiguchi will rematch Kai Asakura where the bantamweight title will be on the line. As for when he will defend the Bellator title, that is currently unknown.
Are you surprised to see Kyoji Horiguchi get knocked out at RIZIN 18? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/18/2019.