RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi has signed a contract with Bellator, per an announcement made Thursday night.
The deal gives Horiguchi the chance to attempt a second reign as Bellator Bantamweight Champion.
“I can’t wait to see him compete in our stacked bantamweight division,” said Bellator President Scott Coker via Twitter.
Horiguchi became Bellator’s 135-pound champ in 2019, fighting to a unanimous decision victory over Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222. He relinquished his Bellator belt in November 2019 after suffering injuries to his ACL and meniscus.
Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN put out a statement regarding the deal, mentioning that it allows Horiguchi the chance to compete while pandemic restrictions make entering Japan a harder process. He will still be recognized as the RIZIN Bantamweight Champion during his time with Bellator.
Horiguchi currently trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, USA.
People entering Japan amid the COVID-19 pandemic must serve a 14-day quarantine no matter their vaccination status, per a statement put out by the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday.
Horiguchi has only competed once since the beginning of the pandemic, making his return in December to defeat Kai Asakura at RIZIN 26 in Saitama, Japan.
“This partnership will benefit all parties where RIZIN will be able to keep their champion busy, Horiguchi will be able to stay busy outside of Japan while representing his country, and Bellator will have another solid addition to its roster,” said the statement from RIZIN.
RIZIN mentioned their hope to have Horiguchi compete in Japan once a year.