RIZIN 15 will feature King Mo Lawal facing Jiri Prochazka for the light heavyweight championship, and star bantamweight Kyoji Horiguchi facing former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen.
RIZIN Fighting Federation has announced the initial bouts for their next card, and some interesting names are in the mix. Kyoji Horiguchi, who was last seen defeating Bellator MMA’s bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell, will not be immediately rematching the champ it seems. Instead, the RIZIN FF’s own bantamweight king will face off with ex-UFC flyweight Ben Nguyen. In addition, another Bellator star, King Mo Lawal, will face Jiri Prochazka for the light heavyweight title.
RIZIN officials announced the news Thursday via press release.
Horiguchi (26-2) has not lost since a title challenge against then-UFC flyweight champion Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson in 2015 at UFC 186. Since then, he has won eleven straight fights between the UFC and RIZIN, and represents the best fighter in Japan, and quite possibly outside the UFC, at the moment.
“I’m happy to be back. My opponent is a tough striker who has a legitimate ground game. This will be a fun [sic] but my goal is to win in exciting fashion,” Horiguchi was quoted as saying in Thursday’s press release. “I am obligated to continue to grow the sport here in Japan, and I need to put on exciting fights.”
Opponent Ben Nguyen was an early casualty of the UFC’s “will they or won’t they” approach to killing the flyweight division. Though coming off two losses, the American fighting out of Australia was 4-3 in the promotion, and 2-2 in his last four. He submitted former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliot at UFC Auckland in 2017, only to lose to Jussier Formiga and Wilson Reis last year. Both have consistently remained at the top of the weight class.
It’s a title shot for King Mo, meanwhile. Lawal (21–8 (1)) has come up short in big moments in Bellator MMA, losing an interim title fight to Emmanuel Newton, the Bellator season 10 light heavyweight tournament to Rampage Jackson, and being knocked out by Ryan Bader in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. However, King Mo did win the RIZIN 2015 World Grand Prix, and now has a shot at another big honor, with the inaugural RIZIN light heavyweight title on the line.
Opposite Mo, Jiri Prochazka. A native of the Czech Republic, Prochazka (23-1, 1NC) has won seven straight. His last loss came to Lawal as part of the 2015 grand prix, adding to the story line of this particular rematch. Prochazka holds notable wins over Satoshi Ishii, Brandon Halsey, and Vadim Nemkov, among others.
Also added to the RIZIN 15 card, Kai Asakura will face former UFC flyweight Ulka Sasaki, and Mikuru Asakura takes on Luiz Gustavo. The event takes place at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan on April 21.