Kyoji Horiguchi feels “no pressure” ahead of RIZIN Grand-Prix; hopes to close out 2017 a perfect 5-0

Photo via RIZIN Fighting Federation

Next weekend, Kyoji Horiguchi will return to the RIZIN and hopes to close out the new year having won the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix.

Boasting a fantastic record of 20-2, the former UFC title-challenger will take on undefeated Brazilian; Gabriel Oliveira on December 29. The winner will move on to December 31 to compete in the tournament semi-finals and could potentially compete in the finals that same night.

After a successful RIZIN Fighting Federation debut against Yuki Motoya, Horiguchi moved up to bantamweight to join the sixteen-man tournament. In the first round, he took on Japanese legend Hideo Tokoro – stopping him in under two minutes.

Kyoji Horiguchi feels “no pressure” ahead of RIZIN Grand-Prix; hopes to close out 2017 a perfect 5-0

Ever since the tournament was announced, many people viewed Horiguchi as the favorite. In what could be a stressful situation for some, Horiguchi told Japanese media that he feels no pressure despite the immense expectations.

“Everybody thinks I am going to win the tournament, so I hope to be able to meet their expectations. But anything can happen in a fight, and everything can end with one good punch, so I don’t plan on taking anybody lightly. The tournament structure where you have to fight 3 times over 3 days (twice in one night) is unique and something I have not experienced, but I trained hard for this so I am determined to win it.”

His opponent on December 29 was relatively unknown earlier this year. But when given a tournament wildcard opportunity vs. Japanese legend Tatsuya Kawajiri, Oliveira improved to 10-0 with a vicious knee knockout against the veteran.

Now that Oliveira has shown himself to the masses, Horiguchi shared his thoughts on his opponent shortly after he completed his open workouts in Japan.

“He’s got a long reach so I don’t want to play along in his range. I plan to fight my range and distance. You really don’t know what to expect unless you actually fight any opponent, but I have sparred with many lanky partners specifically for Oliveira.”

Since their debut in December of 2015, RIZIN Fighting Federation has done an excellent job introducing the MMA world to new, credible future stars. Two of their brightest stars – RENA and Tenshin Nasukawa – will compete alongside Kyoji Horiguchi on RIZIN’s upcoming double-header. With each of them competing in their own respective grand-prix.

But despite that, Horiguchi believes that the grand-prix he is in will steal the show.

“The casual fans will see the difference of talent. I hope to become the winner of the most competitive Bantamweight tournament in the world, and start a fantastic year with a belt around my waist.”

There is no telling what will happen, but Kyoji Horiguchi isn’t lacking confidence ahead of what could potentially be a 5-0 year for him.

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