Months after dethroning Darrion Caldwell to win the Bellator bantamweight gold, Kyoji Horiguchi will return to Japan to face Kai Asakura in a non-title bout in the main event of Rizin 18 on Aug. 18 in Nagoya.
Horiguchi (28-2) is riding an incredible 13-fight winning streak that includes three UFC victories and a 9-0 run in Rizin. Horiguchi submitted Caldwell to win the vacant Rizin title in Dec. 2018. Six months later, he flew to New York to score a decision victory and claim the Bellator gold.
Asakura (12-1) was expected to fight in April, but was forced out of Rizin 15 when Ulka Sasaki and then Justin Scoggins withdrew with injures. The 25-year-old Japanese fighter is unbeaten under the Rizin banner with four victories with one knockout and three decisions.
“Kyoji Horiguchi may just be the best bantamweight in the world at the moment,” Rizin CEO Nobuyuki 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.”
Rizin’s cross-promotion will Invicta continues at Rizin 18, as Rizin super atomweight tournament winner Kanna Asakura (14-4) faces Alesha Zappitella (5-1). Takeya Mizugaki (23-13-2), a former UFC fighter and WEC bantamweight contender, makes his Rizin debut against Manel Kape (13-4).
A lightweight tournament qualifier clash between former DEEP featherweight champion Hiroto Uesako (15-7) and Yves Landu (13-7) has also been announced for the card. According to a release from Rizin, “despite the results, their performances will determine if they will be advancing to the opening round on the Rizin 19 event on October 12.”
Check the updated Rizin 18 card below.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Kai Asakura
Kanna Asakura vs. Alesha Zappitella
Manel Kape vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Hiroto Uesako vs. Yves Landu
Takaki Soya vs. Yutaro Muramoto
Kazuma Sone vs. TBA
John Wayne Parr vs. Danilo Zanolini (kickboxing)
Ryuji Horio vs. Uchu Sakurai (kickboxing)
Shota Takiya vs. Kazuki Osaki (kickboxing)