Bellator MMA Signs Former Shared Rizin Champ Kyoji Horiguchi

By: Jay Pettry
Sep 9, 2021

A high-profile free agent has just signed on the dotted line for Bellator MMA.

On Thursday night, Bellator head Scott Coker posted on Twitter that the organization has signed Kyoji Horiguchi (29-3) at bantamweight. He does not currently have his first opponent booked, but it is largely expected he will vie for the bantamweight belt held by Sergio Pettis.

Horiguchi achieved an incredible feat back in 2019 when he captured the Bellator strap from Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222. As the reigning Rizin Fighting Federation kingpin as well, he became the second fighter in major organizational history to serve as simultaneous champion in two different promotions – Alistair Overeem was the first with Strikeforce and Dream. The Japanese champ relinquished both titles when tearing his ACL in 2019, opting not to hold on to either and instead chose to potentially vie for them in his eventual return.

The two-league king suffered the first knockout loss of his career to Kai Asakura in a non-title affair in 2019. He came back from injury to rematch Asakura in December, and at that time, Asakura had won the bantamweight throne. Horiguchi returned the favor by knocking Asakura out in the first round to get his belt back. According to a statement from Rizin chief Nobuyuki Sakakibara, Horiguchi will be allowed to keep the Rizin title even though he is leaving the company, as Bellator will supposedly let Rizin borrow Horiguchi in the future.

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