Kyoji Horiguchi has completed his contract with RIZIN and he’s now reached free agency.
That’s according to the veteran bantamweight and flyweight competitor, who revealed the news while appearing on the American Top Team podcast Punchin’ In alongside his manager and team owner Dan Lambert.
“Right now I don’t have the belt,” Horiguchi said while confirming that he’s relinquished the RIZIN bantamweight title. “I’m a free agent right now.”
Prior to joining RIZIN in Japan, Horiguchi was one of the top flyweights in the world while competing in the UFC as he amassed an impressive 7-1 record with his only loss coming to former champion Demetrious Johnson.
Following the conclusion of his UFC contract, Horiguchi traveled to Japan where he became one of RIZIN’s biggest stars. He put together an incredible win streak with the promotion while earning wins over names such as Manel Kape, Ian McCall and former Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell.
After defending his RIZIN belt against Caldwell in Japan, Horiguchi then crossed over to Bellator MMA where he claimed the bantamweight title with a second win over Caldwell six months later.
Unfortunately, Horiguchi was eventually forced to relinquish the title after suffering an ACL tear in his knee, which required reconstructive surgery that put him out of action for over a year.
“Kyoji’s an interesting fighter because he’s very popular in Japan, which is why he left the UFC,” Lambert said when addressing Horiguchi’s future. “[Kyoji] left the UFC, you had won like five or six fights in a row when your contract expired but they offered you significantly more money to fight in Japan. The Japanese promotions like having Japanese stars. In the heyday of PRIDE, it was built around the Japanese fighters and bringing in people from other countries, kind of like us against the world but you have to start with the successful Japanese stars. So you’ve been in RIZIN for quite a while now. RIZIN cross promoted with Bellator, which is how he was able to fight [Darrion] Caldwell over in RIZIN, defended your title there. You won that fight then you had another fight for his title in Bellator. Won that title prior to getting hurt.
“There’s a lot of interest in Kyoji from Bellator, staying in RIZIN, UFC’s always looking for the best fighters in the world. I think Kyoji’s probably going to make a decision pretty soon.”
While nothing has been settled yet with his next contract, Horiguchi did express interest in one particular fight, which would give him a chance to reclaim the Bellator title he never actually lost in the cage.
“Maybe [Sergio] Pettis because I want to return the belt back,” Horiguchi said.
Horiguchi hinted during the podcast that he expected to make his decision very soon as he looks to return to action after last fighting in December 2020 when he earned a knockout win over Kai Asakura.