In a bit of quirky matchmaking, Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi, RIZIN’s reigning bantamweight champion, represented Bellator during Saturday’s Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN cross-promotion. Make that former bantamweight champ — ahead of the fight, Horiguchi vacated his title, opting to focus instead on the flyweight division.
His RIZIN-backed foe was Hiromasa Ougikubo, over whom Horiguchi had two previous wins. Both men were returning to the flyweight division after stints at bantamweight.
The trilogy bout opened with Horiguchi firing a leg kick. Ougikubo fired a right. Clinched. But Horiguchi freed himself and moved back to center. Another leg kick landed for Horiguchi, but Ougikubo put on a body lock, looking for a takedown. He backed Horiguchi up against a ring post, only for Horiguchi to reverse. Knees to the thigh followed, until Ougikubo turned things around again, firing knees of his own.
With two minutes remaining, Horiguchi worked his jab, then fired a leg kick. Another followed. When Ougikubo launched a kick of his own, Horiguchi caught it, driving his opponent back to a corner. A knee to the body by Horiguchi, then another, landed. But Ougikubo was chasing Horiguchi moments later. He may have gotten a little too aggressive, as Horiguchi took Ougikubo’s legs out from under him with a kick! The former RIZIN and Bellator champ rained down ground n’ pound after that, but Ougikubo was saved by the bell.
Round two opened with a question mark kick from Kyoji Horiguchi. He then pressed the action, forcing Ougikubo to a corner, where he fired knees to the thighs as Ougikubo fought the wrists. Horiguchi then landed a throw, dragged Ougikubo away from the ropes, and took the back. While Horiguchi had just one hook in, a scramble gave him the second. But Ougikubo reversed, getting on top with just under two minutes left in the round.
From top position, Hiromasa Ougikubo landed an elbow, while Horiguchi perhaps looked to set up a guillotine. That didn’t last long; Horiguchi instead attacked with punches from bottom, while Ougikubo seemed to struggle to get much offense in after that initial elbow, despite being in a dominant position.
Right off the opening bell of the third, Horiguchi dropped his opponent with a well-timed counter. He quickly moved into mount; Ougikubo gave up his back trying to escape. Horiguchi couldn’t hold the position, and Ougikubo reversed; the pair wound up in north-south briefly before a couple of scrambles resulted in Horiguchi back on top, in guard this time. The bulk of the round would play out this way, with Kyoji Horiguchi on top, in control. Ougikubo scrambled free with a minute to go, but was taken back down, eating a knee while in a headlock that busted him up.
Official Result: Kyoji Horiguchi def. Hiromasa Ougikubo by unanimous decision