Kyoji Horiguchi knows he enters the Bellator vs. Rizin event on New Year’s Eve with a limited lead.
Horiguchi (30-5), a former bantamweight champion under both the Bellator and Rizin banners, will take on Hiromasa Ogikubo (25-6-2) on the main card of the December 31 card, which takes place at the Saitama Super Arena. Airs via tape-delay in Japan and on Showtime.
Ogikubo is a known foe for Horiguchi, as they have met twice before. Horiguchi won their opening bout by submission in the second round in March 2013 under the Shooto banner, then won a rematch more than five years later at Rizin FF 11 in July 2018 with a unanimous decision victory.
However, Horiguchi does not expect the results of previous fights to lock in a repeat. As her U.S. Top Team teammate Kayla Harrison learned in her recent PFL championship loss to Larissa Pacheco, getting two wins over someone doesn’t mean going 3-0 will be easy.
I beat him twice, but he’s better than ever,” Horiguchi told MMA Junkie. “I need to show him who’s better. … I always take (the opponent) seriously, because it is a fight. If he punches me in the face, it’s definitely a knockout. It is a complex battle. I always focus.
Horiguchi has struggled with his results in recent years after going on a 13-fight win streak from September 2015 to June 2019. He is 2-3 in his last five bouts, including being bounced by Patchy Mix at the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix in September.
Mix has reached the final of the tournament, where he will challenge interim champion Raufon Stots in the first quarter of 2023. Sergio Pettis will then fight the winner of the grand prix, and Horiguchi hopes to do enough of what he can in that time. Possibly back in talks to get the lease back.
Horiguchi said, “I am only focused on the next bout. “I’ll think about it after this fight. … I think Patchy Mix is going to win. He’s very good. He’s got a lot of confidence.”