If there’s anyone who has benefited tremendously from not re-signing with the UFC in free agency, it’s Kyoji Horiguchi.
The former UFC flyweight title challenger has been with RIZIN FF for two years, and he is a major star in Japan. In his last fight, Horiguchi extended his RIZIN run to 8-0 with a guillotine choke of current Bellator MMA champ Darrion Caldwell on New Year’s Eve.
It’s already been confirmed by Bellator president Scott Coker that a rematch clause would see Horiguchi take on Caldwell inside the Bellator cage, so when will we see it happen? According to an interview with MMAjunkie, Horiguchi says expect it in the summertime.
“I’m very comfortable and maybe June, July we’ll have a rematch,” Horiguchi said. “I think I need one more win.”
Before a rematch can take place, Horiguchi’s next bout will be at RIZIN FF 15 on April 21st, when he takes on fellow ex-UFC fighter Ben Nguyen. It’s a fight that, on paper, heavily favors Kyoji, and from there we could be looking at another Caldwell showdown and the return of Horiguchi to North America.
Should Horiguchi fight Caldwell for Darrion’s title, he has the opportunity to become a simultaneous two-promotion champion, and he says he’d like to be able to defend them both. Whether that actually would be permitted is unknown, but it would be pretty cool.
Horiguchi is focused on Nguyen for now, and it appears he is more than satisfied with how RIZIN has treated him.
“I very enjoy (being with Rizin FF) because more good marketing and everybody excited,” Horiguchi said. “My family (sees me), I like to fight for Rizin.”
Caldwell (12-1) has not defended his Bellator bantamweight crown since he beat Leandro Higo in March. He did go up to 145 lbs and KO’d Noad Lahat prior to the Horiguchi defeat.