Kyoji Horiguchi is good at revenge, or at least that’s how it’s been so far.
The last time the former Bellator and RIZIN bantamweight champ was knocked out, three years ago against Kai Asakura, he came back to deliver the same result in their rematch.
That’s the plan for current Bellator champ Sergio Pettis, who left Horiguchi in a heap after a momentary lapse in defense at Bellator 272 this past December. It might take a while to execute, and there are potential roadblocks in the way, like Patchy Mix, whom Horiguchi faces on Saturday at Bellator 279.
The important thing is, history is on the Japanese veteran’s side.
“It’s a good story,” Horiguchi told MMA Fighting. “I will make another good story.”
His longtime coach, American Top Team’s Mike Brown, calls that spinning a backfist a “lucky shot” that can quickly be overcome. He’s not quite sure about that – he respects the champ and vows to concentrate harder in his next fight.
“It’s my fault,” he said.
Horiguchi laughs about the the “funeral” vibe after his loss to Pettis. He’s been here before. The way he mourns is on bass fishing trips with Brown, the one-time “Coach of the Year” he calls “not good” at fishing.
When the opportunity to fight in a bantamweight grand prix that included Pettis, Horiguchi was happy about potentially getting revenge and winning the title. Then Pettis withdrew due to injury, and he was forced to re-assess his motivation.
Ultimately, Horiguchi decided he didn’t care. He’d been forced to give up his title due to a knee injury, so he understood that Pettis was hurt. There would be plenty of time for a rematch.
“After I get the belt, I want to beat him up,” Horiguchi said. “That’s a revenge match. I get excited more than another fight. But I’m focused right now on Patchy Mix.”
Mix has bounced back from a decision loss to former champ Juan Archuleta for the vacant Bellator bantamweight title. Now, the interim belt is on the line and a $1 million prize awarded to the tournament winner.
“It’s good, because it makes it far more exciting,” Horiguchi said. “I’m a real champ. He thinks he’s the real champ. This is a cool story.”
Knocking out the guy who knocked you out is just a bonus. Judging by their reaction, Horiguchi said his family was even more excited about that prospect.
“F*** YES!” he yells. “Like this.”