After suffering a severe injury that forced him to undergo surgery, Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) has relinquished the title he won last June at Bellator 222.
Horiguchi is expected to be on the sidelines for the better part of the next year.
With the championship now vacant, Bellator will move to book a 135-pound title bout in the coming months.
“I feel terrible for Kyoji 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. “After fully healing, we plan to give Kyoji an immediate title shot.”
Horiguchi won the Rizin bantamweight belt by submitting Darrion Caldwell on New Year’s Eve 2018 in Tokyo. He then won the Bellator bantamweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Caldwell on June 14 in New York. He lost his next fight, getting knocked out by Kai Asakura in a non-title fight at Rizin 18 in August.
Horiguchi had intended on defending the Rizin belt against Asakura on New Year’s Eve this year, but the knee injury derailed those plans, as he vacated the Rizin belt ahead of recently vacating the Bellator belt.
Bellator 222 fight highlights: Horiguchi defeats Caldwell; Machida retires Sonnen
(Courtesy of UFC)