Only days ago, Rizin Bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi announced his free agency. The pursuing days included much speculation as to where the 30 year old Japanese star would be headed next, after a stint in the UFC, a championship reign in Rizin and a single title winning bout in Bellator over the last decade.


However Bellator President Scott Coker recently took to twitter in order to break the news. 


“We have signed former Bellator bantamweight world champion Kyoji Horiguchi and I can’t wait to see him compete in our stacked bantamweight division,” Coker tweeted.


After completing his contract with Rizin FF, Kyoji Horiguchi relinquished his Bantamweight belt, which he has held since 2020, but first won in 2018.


During this reign, Kyoji Horiguchi made history by competing for the Rizin belt in a cross promotion battle with Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell. After defeating Caldwell in Japan, Kyoji then took part in the rematch this time with the Bellator strap on the line, which he won but had to then vacate due to injury.


Having won the Bellator Bantamweight belt, without ever technically losing it – it seems Horiguchi will look to recapture what he believes is his. Following his first victory in the Bellator cage, Coker even claimed that Horiguchi “owed” the promotion a fight.

However Bellator is a quickly moving and rising promotion, and the championship landscape which Horiguchi last saw has changed drastically. Caldwell, Horiguchi’s original Bellator rival, has since moved weight classes and a new young prospect has captured gold in Horiguchi’s division.


Outside of the actual title though, Horiguchi has also cited a competitive interest in this champion. When asked on American Top Team’s Punchin In Podcast, who regardless of promotion interested him, Horiguchi named Sergio Pettis, the younger brother of Anthony Pettis and Bellator’s current Bantamweight king.


No News on when Horiguchi will make his return to the Bellator stage, but needless to say it will be a big one. Whether or not he makes a run for the belt immediately remains to be seen, but it is hard to imagine a world where he is anywhere less than a fight away if he doesn’t get an instant title shot. Regardless, Bellator’s Bantamweight division is stacked and hosts a variety of interesting matchups for Kyoji Horiguchi.


By Braeden Arbour

I am a Media Studies and Literature graduate from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, a black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate, and a blue belt in Judo. I hope to persue a career in sports journalism and writing about various elements around the world of martial arts.

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