Kyoji Horiguchi Tears ACL, Off RIZIN 20 Card

Kyoji Horiguchi
Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi Credit: Bellator MMA

RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi is injured and has been forced out of his RIZIN 20 fight with Kai Asakura.

RIZIN 20 is the Japanese promotion’s year-end extravaganza, but one of their key players is off the card. On Thursday, RIZIN officials announced via press release that Kyoji Horiguchi had torn his ACL, resulting in immediate surgery and his removal from the January event, where he was expected to fight in a rematch with Kai Asakura.

Horiguchi (28–3) also damaged his meniscus in the injury, and is expected to be on the shelf for 10 months.

“We will work hard to take this situation and turn it into a positive, we believe that the fighters who look to stand up to these types of occasions will leave a special impression,” RIZIN President Nobuyuki Sakakibara was quoted as saying in Thursday’s press release.

A longer statement from Horiguchi followed:

“I am terribly sorry. I have inured myself and have just had surgery. And I am forced to withdraw from the RIZIN.20 event…When I think about everybody who was looking forward to my fight on NYE I am lost in words and have an indescribable feeling of guilt for everybody.I am sorry. I am sorry to Kai Asakura, I am sorry to all the fans. I cannot describe how I feel in words…

I have been fighting as a professional for about 10 years since graduating high school and it’s not that I haven’t suffered any injuries but I was able to come all this way without any serious injuries. But I have felt some abnormities [sic] in my body from last year but I didn’t take these signs too seriously. I started to train again in October but failed to realize how much wear and tear my body has obtained. And my ligament in my knee snapped. This was all because I took my body’s warnings lightly.

I will be repeating myself to say I am terribly sorry about my injury and my withdraw from the fight. But I have decided to take this opportunity to heal my body and focus on recovering so I can start off with a fresh mind and body.

I will need to overcome this obstacle to fulfill my goal to revive the Japanese fight scene. I believe that I need to use this opportunity to start over and rebuild towards that goal. I grew up watching PRIDE and that is why I became a fighter. I will not stop until the Japanese fight scene is back to where it used to be or even better.

I am finally recovering from my surgery and just started rehabilitation on Monday in Florida. I have been down all this time but now my mind is set and I know what I need to do. However, I still cannot take a single step.

I will work hard and focus on showing you the stronger and better version of Kyoji Horiguchi. And hopefully I can take part in reviving the Japanese fight scene. Oss.”

Per the press release, Horiguchi has stated he intends to vacate his RIZIN FF bantamweight title. It’s not clear whether he’s expressed the same desire to Bellator MMA, where he also holds the 135lb title.

Horiguchi had a 13-fight win streak, dating back to his run in the UFC, snapped when he was knocked out in a major upset against Asakura in August at RIZIN 18.