Kyoji Horiguchi Returns at RIZIN 26, Rematches Kai Asakura on NYE

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Kyoji Horiguchi
Kyoji Horiguchi Credit: RIZIN FF

RIZIN Fighting Federation has officially announced its final card of 2020 — and it’s a big one. On New Year’s Eve, the heir apparent to PRIDE will host RIZIN 26, with a main event featuring the returning Kyoji Horiguchi in a rematch against Kai Asakura.

Horiguchi (28-3) has long been the best bantamweight outside the UFC, after exiting Dana White’s promotion while riding a three-fight win streak. Debuting in RIZIN in his native Japan in 2017, the former flyweight extended his streak to 13 wins. He moved to bantamweight in the process, collecting scalps including Ian McCall, Ben Nguyen, and Darrion Caldwell — winning the Bellator MMA bantamweight title at the same time he held the RIZIN bantamweight belt.

Holding a major title in two promotions concurrently cemented Horiguchi as one of the best. But a shocking KO loss in a non-title fight to Kai Asakura in August 2019 stunned observers. Following that, Horiguchi was expected to defend his Bellator title. However in November 2019, it was announced that the Japanese fighter would relinquish the belt due to a knee injury. He would eventually give up the RIZIN title as well.

Kai Asakura (16-2), meanwhile, came up short in his first attempt to claim the vacant RIZIN title, losing to Manel Kape. When Kape jumped ship to the UFC, however, Asakura defeated Hiromasa Ougikubo to win the belt. He’ll be making his first title defense against Horiguchi.

In a press release announcing the fight, Kyoji Horiguchi was quoted as saying that “I got finished when we last fought so I plan to get him back. I have been watching all of his fights and I do believe that he has evolved a lot. I feel obligated to deliver an exciting fight to the fans who waited for my return for a year.”

Additional bouts for RIZIN 26 are expected to be announced at a later date. The show will take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on December 31.

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