RIZIN 11 to Feature Mirko Cro-Cop, Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Shooto Champ Hiromasa Ogikubo

Mirko Cro-Cop
Credit: RIZIN FF

RIZIN Fighting Federation is stacking the deck once more for RIZIN 11 in July, featuring heavyweight legend Cro-Cop and a quick turnaround for Kyoji Horiguchi.

Having just held their first card of the year in Fukuoka, RIZIN FF is already putting plans together for their next affair. On Wednesday, the Japanese MMA promotion announced via press release that RIZIN 11 would take place July 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, just outside Tokyo. Taking part in the card will be bantamweight king Kyoji Horiguchi, fresh off a lightening quick knockout of Ian McCall. Also on the card will be Mirko Cro-Cop, against an opponent to be named later.

The booking of Cro-Cop is an interesting twist. The legendary striker will fight later this month at Bellator 200 in a rematch against Roy Nelson dating back to their UFC days. That bout has been labelled an alternate for Bellator’s World Heavyweight Grand Prix. With Cro-Cop fighting again roughly two months later, RIZIN is banking on him not being injured in the Nelson fight — and Bellator are no doubt hoping he’s not injured in the RIZIN bout. Since if he wins against Nelson and one of the final four Grand Prix combatants is injured, his services may be required.

In any case, for now, Cro-Cop is a big part of RIZIN 11, though no opponent has been named.

Kyoji Horiguchi (24–2), meanwhile, continues an impressive run that began back in the UFC. He’s won nine straight, including his final three UFC fights, and RIZIN’s bantamweight grand prix. Horiguchi’s only loss since 2012 has come to pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson.

His opponent at RIZIN 11, Hiromasa Ogikubo, (17-3), is on an impressive win streak of his own, having won seven straight. The Shooto champion will be looking for vengeance against Horiguchi: the two have met before, in 2013, with Horiguchi claiming the win and Shooto bantamweight championship in the process.

Horiguchi will compete again in September in a kickboxing contest. “Fighting an MMA fight in July before I make my kickboxing debut in September won’t affect my training at all,” Horiguchi was quoted as saying. “I train all aspects of the fight for MMA fights, kickboxing is included.”

Kickboxing and MMA sensation Tenshin Nasukawa is also expected to feature on the card, though RIZIN did not clarify which rule set the teenage phenom would be competing under.