Kyoji Horiguchi didn't stay a free agent for long.
In a Monday press release, Japanese promotion Rizin Fighting Federation announced the signing of the 26-year-old Horiguchi, who has spent the last three years and change in the Ultimate Fighing Championship's flyweight division. Horiguchi will make his debut for Rizin FF at “Rizin 2017 in Yokohoma” on April 16 at the Yokohama Arena.
“I've left the UFC and I'm coming back to Japan. When I was a high school student, it was Pride that made me aim to become a fighter, so to get this opportunity from Mr. [Rizin CEO Nobuyuki] Sakakibara is somewhat strange,” Horiguchi said in a statement, which featured a picture of him posed arm-in-arm with Sakakibara.
“I will show the skill and heart cultivated in the UFC's tough environment to the fans of Japan.”
In the release, Sakakibara re-affirmed that Rizin FF was looking to sign an international contingent of top flyweights and establish the division as a prominent piece of the upstart promotion.
A former Shooto world champion at 132 pounds, Horiguchi made his UFC debut at UFC 166 in October 2013, knocking out Dustin Pague in the second round. Horiguchi, a product of “Kid” Norifumi Yamamoto's team Krazy Bee who now trains with American Top Team, went 7-1 in his UFC tenure. His lone loss came in his April 2015 title challenge against pound-for-pound king and UFC champ Demetrious Johnson, where he was submitted with one second left in the fifth round.
On Wednesday, Horiguchi will attend a Rizin FF press conference in Tokyo where it is expected that his opponent, as well as other bouts for the April 16 card in Yokohama, will be revealed.