Kyoji Horiguchi Captures Flyweight Title with Second-Round RNC at Rizin FF 45

Following a disappointing 25-second no contest in July, Kyoji Horiguchi settled the score in his rematch with Makoto Takahashi at Rizin Fighting Federation 45 in Saitama, Japan. Horiguchi finished Takahashi with a second-round rear-naked choke to become the inaugural Rizin flyweight champion in the night’s main event.

Horiguchi (32-5, 1 NC; 13-1 Rizin) countered an early takedown from Takahashi (16-2-1, 1 NC; 3-1 Rizin) with three guillotine choke attempts. Takahashi escaped each time and took Horiguchi’s back as the fighters rose to their feet. Horiguchi landed back elbow strikes until Takahashi tried for a rear-naked choke late in the competitive round.

The second round began with another early guillotine choke from Horiguchi. Takahashi freed his neck and the fighters battled against a corner post until Horiguchi took Takahashi’s back and sunk in a tight rear-naked choke. Takahashi tapped out at the 3:44 mark of Round 2, crowning Horiguchi as the first Rizin flyweight champion. Horiguchi celebrated his victory by proposing in the ring to his girlfriend, who said yes.

The co-main event was initially scheduled to be a bantamweight title defense for Juan Archuleta, but that changed when he missed weight by six pounds during weigh-ins and was stripped of his title. After extensive negotiations, it was agreed that Archuleta’s fight against Kai Asakura – who made weight – would proceed only if Archuleta weighed no more than 150 pounds one hour before the fight was to begin. Asakura was still eligible to win the bantamweight title while Archuleta’s best hope was for a no contest.

Seconds into the fight, Asakura (21-4, 13-3 Rizin) was dropped by Archuleta (29-5, 3-1 Rizin), but he survived the initial storm and scored a crucial takedown that allowed him to rack up some ground control time. On the feet, Asakura stunned Archuleta with a counter hook and Archuleta was given a yellow card when he landed three punches after the bell.

The second round was an even one until Asakura landed a perfectly-timed counter knee to Archuleta’s chest as Archuleta shot in for a takedown. Archuleta collapsed to the mat and Asakura followed up with punches for a TKO stoppage at the 3:20 mark of Round 2. With the victory, Asakura regained the Rizin bantamweight title that he lost three years ago, and also snapped a three-fight losing streak in bouts held on New Year’s Eve.

In a bout between two former Rizin featherweight champions, Kleber Koike Erbst (32-7-1, 1 NC; 7-2, 1 NC Rizin) choked out Yutaka Saito (21-8-2, 4-4 Rizin) in the third round.

Koike was warned for repeated groin kicks during an otherwise uneventful opening round. In the second stanza, both men landed flailing hammerfists during a prolonged ground battle and Koike secured a sweep into top position shortly before the bell. Koike trapped Saito in a brabo choke early in the third round and began screaming to the crowd. Saito was eventually rendered unconscious and the fight was stopped at the 1:22 mark of Round 3.

Opening up the main card, Ren Hiramoto (3-3, 3-3 Rizin) took a well-deserved unanimous decision win in his featherweight grudge match with Ren Sugiyama (1-1, 1-1 Rizin).

Both fighters landed hard punches during an action-packed opening round and Hiramoto staggered Sugiyama – better known as “Ya-Man” – on one occasion. Hiramoto continued to have success with straight punches while avoiding Sugiyama’s looping strikes, and he cut Sugiyama above his right eye with a knee in the final round. All three judges scored the fight for Hiramoto, who rebounded from a narrow decision loss in April.

During part three of the mammoth card, Rizin champion Seika Izawa (12-0, 7-0 Rizin) submitted Miyuu Yamamoto (6-8, 6-8 Rizin) with a no-hooks rear-naked choke at the 37-second mark of Round 2 in a non-title women’s super atomweight contest. A retirement ceremony was held for Yamamoto following the fight. Mikio Ueda (3-1, 2-1 Rizin) stopped Tsuyoshi Kamiyama (8-3, 8-3 Rizin) with a knee and punches at the 55-second mark of Round 2 in heavyweight action; Hiromasa Ougikubo (26-8-2, 8-5 Rizin) earned a unanimous decision win over John Dodson (24-14, 2-1 Rizin) at flyweight; Vince Morales (14-7, 1-0 Rizin) won his bantamweight bout against Yuki Motoya (34-11, 1 NC; 10-7, 1 NC Rizin) via unanimous decision; and Shinobu Ota (5-3, 5-3 Rizin) knocked out Ryusei Ashizawa (0-1, 0-1 Rizin) with punches at the 2:21 mark of Round 1 in another bantamweight clash.

Earlier in the night, Koji Tanaka (1-0, 1-0 Rizin) stopped Kota Miura (2-2, 2-2 Rizin) with punches and soccer kicks at the 59-second mark of Round 2 in a 143-pound catchweight contest; Igor Tanabe (5-0, 3-0 Rizin) put Shinsho Anzai (9-6, 0-1 Rizin) to sleep with a modified rear-naked choke at the 1:32 mark of Round 1 at welterweight; Hiroya Kondo (9-12-1, 1-2 Rizin) upset two-division Shooto champion Jo Arai (13-11-1, 0-1 Rizin) via TKO due to a head kick and punches at the 2:53 mark of Round 2 at flyweight; and lightweight Yuta Kubo (3-1, 3-1 Rizin) submitted Rukiya Anpo (0-1, 0-1 Rizin) with a rear-naked choke at the 4:28 mark of Round 1.

On the four-fight preliminary card, Suguru Nii (14-9, 2-2 Rizin) knocked out Satoshi Yamasu (12-8, 2-3 Rizin) with a right hook at the 1:03 mark of Round 2 in featherweight action; Ryujin Nasukawa (1-0, 1-0 Rizin) rallied to win his 119-pound catchweight bout against Jong Min Shin (0-1, 0-1 Rizin) via TKO (punches) at the 2:16 mark of Round 2; Joe Hiramoto (1-0, 1-0 Rizin) won his pro MMA debut via unanimous decision against Yushi Sakura (3-2, 3-2 Rizin) at bantamweight; and Tatsuki Shinotsuka defeated Daichi Tomizawa via unanimous decision in a 132-pound kickboxing match.

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