RIZIN bantamweight king Kyoji Horiguchi won’t be defending his title on Dec. 31, as the 135-pounder announced during a press conference on Thursday that he had to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury.
RIZIN announced that Horiguchi, who also holds the Bellator belt, suffered a right knee ACL tear and meniscus injury that will potentially force him out of action for 10 months. According to a press release, Horiguchi has asked to “revoke his status as RIZIN champion and return the belt” after being informed by the doctors that he wouldn’t be able to fight for at least 10 months.
Horiguchi was scheduled to rematch Kai Asakura in Japan, looking to avenge a quick knockout loss he suffered in a non-title bout earlier this year. The Japanese promotion has yet to announce if Asakura will remain on the card.
“I am terribly sorry,” Horiguchi said. “I have inured myself and have just had surgery. And I am forced to withdraw from the RIZIN 20 event... When I think about everybody who was looking forward to my fight on NYE I am lost in words and have an indescribable feeling of guilt for everybody. I am sorry. I am sorry to Kai Asakura, I am sorry to all the fans. I cannot describe how I feel in words.
“I have been fighting as a professional for about 10 years since graduating high school and it’s not that I haven’t suffered any injuries but I was able to come all this way without any serious injuries. But I have felt some abnormalities in my body from last year but I didn’t take these signs too seriously. I started to train again in October but failed to realize how much wear and tear my body has obtained. And my ligament in my knee snapped. This was all because I took my body’s warnings lightly.
“I will be repeating myself to say I am terribly sorry about my injury and my withdraw from the fight. But I have decided to take this opportunity to heal my body and focus on recovering so I can start off with a fresh mind and body. I will need to overcome this obstacle to fulfill my goal to revive the Japanese fight scene. I believe that I need to use this opportunity to start over and rebuild towards that goal. I grew up watching PRIDE and that is why I became a fighter. I will not stop until the Japanese fight scene is back to where it used to be or even better.
“I am finally recovering from my surgery and just started rehabilitation on Monday in Florida. I have been down all this time but now my mind is set and I know what I need to do. However, I still cannot take a single step. I will work hard and focus on showing you the stronger and better version of Kyoji Horiguchi. And hopefully I can take part in reviving the Japanese fight scene.”
Check the updated RIZIN 20 card below.