Rizin bantamweight champion, Kyoji Horiguchi (23-2) is set to meet fellow former UFC fighter, Ian McCall (13-6-1), at Rizin 9 on May 6th in Fukuoka, Japan.
Horiguchi is widely considered one of the best flyweights in the world. His only loss in the last six years was to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in a failed bid to capture his belt. Horiguchi went on to win his next three fights in the UFC and chose not renew his contract after a win over Ali Bagautinov in 2016. Horiguchi instead chose to sign with Rizin, where he moved up to bantamweight to partake in their 135 lb. Grand Prix last year.
Horiguchi tore through the competition, winning his opening round fight against Hideo Tokoro by K.O. in June. At Rizin’s year-end shows, Horiguchi TKO’d Gabriel Olivera on December 29th. Two days later, he choked out Michael Knape in the semifinals and knocked out Shintaro Ishiwatari in the finals to win the tournament and the bantamweight belt.
McCall made his Rizin debut in the same tournament and was given a buy into the quarterfinals. There he took on Michael Knape. McCall lost his bout due to TKO after his head scraped the ropes causing a nasty gash and forcing the doctor’s to stop the bout. Those officiating believed the cut was caused by a knee from Knape until later replays revealed the ropes were the actual culprit.
This was McCall’s first bout since 2015 due to a terrible string of bad luck. Over two years, between McCall’s injuries and illnesses and his opponents, five different bouts he was booked for were canceled. McCall was granted his release from the UFC last October citing contractual disagreements.