Kyoji Horiguchi has become a target in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix

Kyoji Horiguchi has become a target in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix

By Edward Carbajal

9/1/2017


One of the top flyweights that left the UFC back in February of this year, Kyoji Horiguchi is in the RIZIN 2017 Bantamweight Grand Prix. He won his opening round match in July with a first round knockout over Hideo Tokoro and seems to have caught the attention of some other notable Japanese mixed martial artists.

During a press conference held in Tokyo RIZIN General Manager Nobuhiko Takada announced that Tatsuya Kawajiri will be facing an undefeated prospect from Brazil, Gabriel Oliveira (9-0) in their October, 15 event. The winner of the bout will be the “wild card” in the bantamweight tournament on December 29. This will be the first time the 39-year-old fighter will be fighting at the bantamweight class.

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Gabriel Oliveira.jpg
The only reason why I am doing this, is because I want Horiguchi. If he wasn’t in this tournament, I would never go through all of this pain to just make weight. I want to put everything I have, everything I have worked for, in this tournament to fight the icon of Japan’s young, promising generation. I made it down to 63kg (138lb) in July for a test, and I have been able to keep my weight around 68kg (150lb) and feel strong for the past 2 months. I will be ready to make weight and perform the same.
— Tatsuya Kawajiri

Kawajiri wants to test himself, but there is another competitor in the tournament looking for redemption.

Shintaro Ishiwatari(22-6-4) is in the tournament as well and hopes to face Horiguchi in December. The 32-year-old faced Horiguchi in 2013 and fell to the former UFC vet in the final round of their five-round match via TKO. Ishiwatari says he has been following Horiguchi since the loss and has studied him to make himself a better fighter.

Shintaro Ishiwatari vs Akhmed Musakaev.jpg
I study off of his fights, to make myself a better fighter. Most fighters have a time period where you hit a wall and stop improving, a time where you struggle. But he just continues to evolve like simple math. His fight IQ is high, his overall skill levels are high, and there is a lot to learn from him.
— Shintaro Ishiwatari

Takada was the man that founded Pride Fighting Championships and when the promotion fell, many MMA fans missed the match-ups and rivalries that were made in that promotion. Not all of it was trash talk, some of it was simply because the fighters wanted to face the very best there is or avenge a loss. It looks like RIZIN is starting to bring that back for their 2017 Grand Prix.


Images: Courtesy of RIZIN FF

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