RIZIN 38: Kyoji Horiguchi Submits Kintaro After Early Adversity

Kyoji Horiguchi and Kintaro, RIZIN 38
Kyoji Horiguchi and Kintaro, RIZIN 38 Credit: RIZIN FF

At RIZIN 38 in the famed Saitama Super Arena in Japan, Kyoji Horiguchi, currently fighting in both RIZIN and Bellator due to their cross-promotionsl agreement, faced off against Yuto Hokamura.

Better known as Kintaro, Hokamura was taking on Horiguchi in a non-title fight main event over three rounds. Horiguchi, the current RIZIN bantamweight champion, former UFC title challenger, and former Bellator champion, looked to get back to his winning ways after two tough losses. Against Sergio Pettis he dominated his challenge to regain the Bellator bantamweight title until getting knocked out by a spinning backfist and against Patchy Mix in the bantamweight grand prix he was controlled on the ground for stretches of the fight en route to losing a close and somewhat controversial decision. This made the fighter who Dan Lambert once called “the best fighter at ATT” — American Top Team being one of the best gyms in the world — 1-3 in his last four fights. In this return to RIZIN his opponent, Kintaro, is on a similarly tough run recently going 2-4 in his last six.

Kyoji’s bouncy, karate-boxing style was on full display early as he popped in and out of range with kicks from his bladed stance. Kintaro, a southpaw, was on the back foot for much of the first round and had trouble initially with landing against the expert movement of Horiguchi — but he did land one big left hand to counter a knee from Kyoji around two minutes into the fight that dropped the champion briefly. Kyoji did not seem fazed and soon went to a takedown which he landed. He proceeded to take the back and then full mount but Kintaro was relentless in trying to escape and got back to his feet.

With one minute in the round Kyoji began to turn up the volume and landed one big head kick that skimmed off of Kintaro’s forehead. Horiguchi then caught a leg kick, pushed his foe to the ground, and gained full mount with only seconds left in the round. Kintaro seemed to have an early lead due to the knockdown, but it has to be remembered that RIZIN fights are not scored round by round, but rather as a whole and without a 10-point must system.

Round two began much the same as the first; the champion looked to land kicks while Kintaro looked to counter those kicks with power punches. After a minute or so, Kyoji Horiguchi changed levels, double legged his opponent, and passed to half guard quickly. The striking exchanges had been close thus far but whenever the fight went to the ground Kyoji was able to gain a dominant position and do damage, so the takedown was smart here. At the halfway point of the round Horiguchi passed cleanly to full mount and began to look for a head and arm choke. When he stepped off to the side the choke was already extremely tight. Kintaro tried to turn into it and create space to escape. However, the champion kept his iron grip locked and after a good twenty seconds spent in the choke Kintaro was reduced to unconsciousness. The champ was back in the winning column for the first time since 2020.

Official Result: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Yuto Hokamura by technical submission (arm-triangle choke), Round 2, 2:59