Kyoji Horiguchi, RIZIN 45

Kyoji Horiguchi wins Rizin flyweight title with rear naked choke finish of Makoto Shinryu at Rizin 45

Japan has always been known for putting on epic New Years events, and this year was no different at Rizin 45 where two new world champions were crowned following a night of 12 stunning finishes.

Former Rizin and Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (32-5, 1 NC) took center stage in the main event of the evening opposing former Cage Fury and DEEP flyweight champion Makoto Shinryu (16-2-1, 1 NC), a rematch of their July encounter that resulted in a no contest just 25 seconds into the bout.

This bout was contested for the inaugural Rizin flyweight championship, which Horiguchi won via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:44 of round two to become a two-division world champion.

Shinryu came into the bout on a 10-fight win streak, short of the no contest this past July, seeing him submit four of his last six opponents en route to challenging for Rizin’s 125 lb title.

Horiguchi on the other hand, a former UFC flyweight title challenger, came in having gone 2-0, 1 NC over his latest three appearances following a 1-3 run from 2019 to 2022. Following his title shot against Demetrious Johnson back in 2015, Horiguchi would win his next three-straight upon departing from the UFC roster after defeating former FNG flyweight champion and fellow former UFC title challenger Ali Bagautinov (UD).

Since then, he defeated the likes of former Rizin bantamweight champion and current no. 6 ranked UFC flyweight contender Manel Kape (arm-triangle choke), former UFC flyweight title challenger Ian McCall (KO), and former Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell twice (guillotine choke, UD), who he won the Rizin and Bellator bantamweight titles against, improving him to 28-2 as a professional.

This led up to his first fight with two-time Rizin bantamweight champion Kai Asakura, who KO’d him in a mere 67 seconds, before he later avenged the defeat via second round TKO in the immediate rematch.

Horiguchi would vacate both of his belts en route to challenging former Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis for his title, and he looked incredible in this bout, absolutely mauling Pettis at will throughout. However, this led up to his KO defeat stemming from a spinning back fist in round four that came out of nowhere.

This was followed up by a unanimous decision defeat to current Bellator bantamweight champion Patchy Mix (UD), before going on his recent four-fight unbeaten streak that just saw him capture Rizin’s first ever flyweight championship.

Kyoji Horiguchi Career Accomplishments

  • 32-5 (1 NC) with 20 finishes
  • 2nd-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate
  • A-Class Shootist (pretty much the equivalent of a black belt in MMA)
  • UFC flyweight title challenger (7-1 record in the UFC)
  • Shooto bantamweight champion
  • Two-time Rizin bantamweight champion
  • Bellator bantamweight champion
  • Rizin flyweight champion

Not a bad career.

Who would you like to see Kyoji Horiguchi face in his first title defense?

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Brady Ordway
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That's the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you'd like to see those pieces, be sure to check out!