Weeks after he relinquished the Rizin bantamweight title, Kyoji Horiguchi has let go of the Bellator bantamweight belt as well.
Bellator MMA announced this unfortunate news in a Wednesday afternoon press release.
“I feel terrible for Kyoji [Horiguchi] about the injury he suffered to his knee, but in the true spirit of martial arts and being a true champion, he has elected to vacate his title and allow the division to move forward in his absence,” Bellator President Scott Coker said in the release. “After fully healing, we plan to give Kyoji an immediate title shot.”
As aforementioned, Horiguchi’s demotion from a two-promotion champion to a belt-less former champion is the result of a severe knee injury.
Horiguchi was expected to return to the RIZIN ring on New Years Eve, where he would have taken on Kai Asakura. Asakura scored a shocking knockout victory over Horiguchi in a non-title bout earlier this year.
“I am terribly sorry. I have injured myself and have just had surgery, and I am forced to withdraw from the Rizin 20 event,” Horiguchi said in a statement issued at the time of his withdrawal from this fight.
“Injuries happen, and this is what we have to deal with on a regular basis,” Rizin boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara said of Horiguchi. “We will work hard to take this situation and turn it into a positive. We believe that the fighters who look to stand up to these types of occasions will leave a special impression.”
At present, it’s not clear when Kyoji Horiguchi will be able to return to the ring or cage, but it’s clear that he’ll be welcome backed to high profile fights by both Rizin and Bellator.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 11/27/2019.