Despite carrying the weight of the expectations of his countrymen ahead of the Rizin FF World Grand Prix 2017 Bantamweight tournament, Kyoji Horiguchi insists he does not feel the pressure of fighting in his homeland of Japan. The former UFC flyweight contender will face experienced Japanese MMA veteran Hideo Tokoro in the tournaments first round this weekend.
Rizin FF Grand Prix 2017 1st Round, or simply Rizin 2017, takes place on Sunday, July 30 in the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event will mark the Japanese’s promotion’s third Grand Prix since being formed by ex-PRIDE FC president Nobuyuki Sakakibara in 2015 and will feature talented bantamweights from around the world including Horiguchi and fellow UFC alumni Anthony Birchak.
Horiguchi (19-2), who spoke to MMA Plus‘ Asian correspondent Bruno Massami through his translator, said that he felt this fight was “nothing special compared to other fights” and that he would “fight as [he] does always” to contend with DREAM legend Tokoro.
Having previously fought in the UFC flyweight division and having competed at 58kg in his Rizin debut, Horiguchi will move up to a more natural weight to fight in the bantamweight tournament (61kg). Although he has spent a long time fighting in a lighter weight class, Horiguchi is quick to point out that this hasn’t always been the case.
“I was fighting 60+kgs when I was fighting in Shooto so have no worries about [adapting to] my weight.”