Bellator’s Kyoji Horiguchi was winning his bantamweight title fight against Sergio Pettis late last year, right up until he wasn’t.
A former 135 pound champion in both Bellator MMA and RIZIN, at Bellator 272 Horiguchi was seeking to reclaim the title he vacated due to injury. Up three rounds, he suffered a shock knockout in the fourth, with Pettis mounting what many saw as the Comeback of the Year.
Now, Horiguchi will try to take the long road back to the title, as he enters the Bellator bantamweight grand prix, starting with his quarterfinal bout against Patchy Mix at Bellator 279.
“I’m very excited for this fight because I’m coming off a loss. I want to pay it back,” Horiguchi told media outlets including Cageside Press at Thursday’s media day. “It’s okay that I lost. It’s a fight. I’m okay. My mentality is the same. Always focused. I want to get back on top. Losses are frustrating, no doubt. I will be back.“
The Japanese fighter, who has long been training stateside in Florida, trains alongside Danny Sabatello, who will compete in a tournament wild card bout on Friday at Bellator 278, the first of back-to-back shows in Hawaii for the promotion. Horiguchi believes the pair could see each other in the finals.
“I talk with Danny Sabatello all the time about the tournament. We train together all the time. We joke around a lot about the fact that we’re both in the Grand Prix. I believe that I will see him in the final. I think so. He’s a good fighter, too.”
Ultimately, what he really wants is a rematch with Pettis — though with the champ injured, that will have to come after the tournament. “I would pay it back. Just thinking about payback. Rematch!” he exclaimed. “Of course, why not?”
Watch the full Bellator 279 media day scrum with Kyoji Horiguchi above. Horiguchi faces Patchy Mix in a btanweight grand prix quarter-final this Saturday, April 23, 2022 at Bellator 279 in Honolulu, Hawaii.