Kyoji Horiguchi accomplished many of his greatest feats as an undersized bantamweight going up against bigger and stronger opponents.
Despite previously claiming both the Bellator and RIZIN bantamweight titles, the 32-year-old veteran admits he’s always considered himself a flyweight, which is why he’s very happy to return to the division for his upcoming matchup against Hiromasa Ogikubo on New Year’s Eve.
“Because my weight is normally very light for bantamweight,” Horiguchi said of his return to flyweight in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I can make flyweight very easily, so that’s why I’m moving [there], and I also lost two in a row, and that’s why.”
The fight against Pettis was particularly vexing, because Horiguchi was well ahead on the scorecards when he got caught with a spinning backfist late in the fourth round, costing him the Bellator bantamweight title.
While he appreciates that both fights were competitive, Horiguchi didn’t sign up to come close to victory, and ultimately he still left with a loss on his record.
“The last fight and the Sergio Pettis fight, I guess I did good, but a loss is a loss, so I have to do something,” he said. “I want to fight at flyweight, too. Flyweight is my weight class, I think. That’s why I’m going there.”
As it stands, Horiguchi is signed to Bellator, a promotion that doesn’t have a flyweight division. But he holds out hope that will change in the near future.
Horiguchi hasn’t had any detailed conversations with Bellator but definitely plans to push for a 125-pound division.
“I hope so,” Horiguchi said about Bellator adding a flyweight division. “I think so [I feel better at flyweight] because my weight is very, very light. I talked with [Bellator President Scott Coker] a little bit but not a deep conversation. I just said I want flyweight – can you make it?”
At the upcoming Bellator-RIZIN card from Japan, Horiguchi looks to prove how good he is at flyweight in a fight against his old foe in Ogikubo. He already holds two wins over the veteran from a pair of previous meetings, but he has no problem signing up for a third fight, especially with the chance to compete close to home in Japan on a card as big as the one happening on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m always happy for the fight,” Horiguchi said about the matchup. “I think he’s a different fighter now. I have to be a little bit careful for him.
“Mixed martial arts is very big in Japan. The New Year’s eve events are huge there and it’s always special.”