5 Things You Might Not Know About Kyoji Horiguchi

By: Guy Portman
Dec 29, 2018

Kyoji Horiguchi (25-2) is one of Japan’s best ever mixed martial artists. In his next appearance, the Ultimate Fighting Championshipalum will defend his belt against reigning Bellator MMA bantamweight title holder Darrion Caldwell at Rizin 14 on New Year’s Eve, at the Saitama Super Arena, in Saitama, Japan.

As we approach the much-anticipated clash, here are five things that you might not know about Horiguchi:

He has been a champion before.

Horiguchi also achieved gold with the Shooto promotion. He won their bantamweight strap in Mar. 2013 via a second-round rear-naked choke submission of Hiromasa Ogikubo.

He once fought three times in three days.

In 2017, Horiguchi competed for Rizin FF three times in as many days. The hectic schedule was due to his participation in the 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix. On Dec. 29 of that year, “Typhoon” overcame Gabriel Oliveira with a first round KO. A mere two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Horiguchi stopped two opponents in the same night. His victims were Manel Kape and Shintaro Ishiwatari.

He has fought in two weight categories.

Prior to his UFC tenure, the young knockout artist was widely regarded as the best bantamweight in Asia. After a triumphant debut at 135-pounds with the Las Vegas based promotion at UFC 166 in October 2013, Horiguchi down-sized to flyweight. Three successive UFC wins in his new weight category later, Horiguchi fought Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight title in a losing effort at UFC 186 in April 2015. Upon his return to the Land of the Rising Sun with Rizin FF, the Japanese combatant appeared once at flyweight before returning to bantamweight. The move has certainly reaped rewards for Horiguchi, who is 6-0 since upsizing.

He has a penchant for the KO.

Horiguchi initially trained in karate. Today, his origins in the sport manifest themselves in a remarkable KO rate. 13 (52 percent) of Horiguchi’s 22 victories have come by way of KO/TKO. This is a particularly impressive knockout rate for a fighter competing in the sport’s lighter weight categories. The heavy-handed Japanese pugilist’s fastest stoppage wins have come in recent times while turning out for Rizin FF. In his sophomore outing with the promotion, in July 2017, Horiguchi knocked out veteran Hideo Tokoro a mere 1:49 into the opening period. His quickest KO to date was a 9-second blowout of fellow UFC alum Ian McCall at Rizin 10 in May 2018. The finish is the quickest in Rizin FF history.

He has spent a lot of time Stateside.

After graduating from high school, Horiguchi started training at Krazy Bee under the tutelage of his mentor and the gym’s founder, the late Norifumi Yamamoto. It was after his title fight defeat at the hands of Johnson in April 2015 that Horiguchi made the decision to up and leave to the United States. There he enlisted with the vaunted American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. To this day, he continues to spend the majority of his time training there. From all accounts, keen fisherman Horiguchi enjoys the lifestyle in South Florida. His former trainer, “Kid” Yamamoto, once stated of his charge’s move across the Pacific, “I am happy to hear Kyoji's decision and I am fully supportive of him …”

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