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Former champion Kyoji Horiguchi agrees to Bellator MMA return, joins loaded bantamweight division

Kyoji Horiguchi, a former champion in a number of promotions who’s extensively thought of among the many greatest energetic 135-pound fighters on the earth, agreed Thursday to return to Bellator MMA.  

The signing of Horiguchi (29-3) was confirmed on social media by Bellator president Scott Coker because the promotion solely added to a bantamweight division overflowing with depth as rumors proceed to swirl concerning a potential future announcement of a Bellator World Grand Prix match on the weight class.  

Horiguchi, a 30-year-old native of Japan, is the previous Bellator MMA and RIZIN bantamweight champion, having gained each titles in consecutive victories over Darrion Caldwell over a six-month span ending in 2019. The primary battle befell at Rizin 14 in Japan with Horiguchi profitable by third-round submission whereas the rematch was held at Bellator 222 in New York when “The Storm” closed out the two-fight collection throughout each promotions with a call win.  

Simply 5 months after their second battle, a knee damage pressured Horiguchi to vacate each titles. He returned in 2019 and suffered an upset knockout loss to Kai Asakura at Rizin 18 however avenged the loss 16 months later in a first-round TKO of Asakura final December.  

Horiguchi, who trains out of American Prime Workforce in Coconut Creek, Fla., appeared on the gym’s “Punchin’ In” podcast earlier this week to announce his free company and expressed curiosity in preventing present Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis, who captured the title by choice over Juan Archuleta at Bellator 258 in Could.  

“Possibly Pettis as a result of I need to return again the belt,” Horiguchi mentioned. “That is why Pettis.” 

Along with Pettis and Archuleta, the Bellator bantamweight division options a lot of elite fighters and promising future stars within the likes of Raufeon Stots, Patchy Combine, Magomed Magomedov, Leandro Higo, Caldwell and James Gallagher. Present Bellator light-weight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who misplaced his featherweight title to AJ McKee within the finals of the 145-pound Grand Prix in July, additionally just lately shared his curiosity in probably in search of a title in a 3rd division at bantamweight.  

Horiguchi closed out his four-year run in Rizin with a document of 9-1, together with a 2017 victory within the promotion’s Bantamweight World Grand Prix match. Earlier than that, Horiguchi went 7-1 within the UFC along with his solely loss coming in a flyweight title battle in opposition to Demetrious Johnson when he was submitted with one second left within the fifth spherical.  

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