Kyoji Horiguchi relinquishes Bellator MMA title
Kyoji Horiguchi relinquishes Bellator bantamweight belt | Pic: Supplied/ Bellator MMA

Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) has relinquished his Bellator MMA bantamweight title. The Japanese mixed martial artist suffered “a severe” knee injury, which required surgery, the promotion announced on Thursday.

Horiguchi is reportedly expected to be out of action for the period of 10-12 months. The contest for a now vacant bantamweight title is expected to be booked in the coming months. Bellator President Scott Coker said that his promotion plans to give the Japanese competitor an immediate title shot after he is fully recovered.

“I feel terrible for Kyoji [Horiguchi] 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,” Coker said. “After fully healing, we plan to give Kyoji an immediate title shot.”

Kyoji Horiguchi won the belt by unanimous decision against former champion Darrion Caldwell this past June and became champion in two organizations. Prior to that he stopped Ben Nguyen in a catchweight bout, and claimed the inaugural Rizin FF bantamweight title via third-round submission against Caldwell.

In his previous bout in August Horiguchi was stopped by Kai Asakura 67 seconds in the first round of non-title bout. He was expected to face him for the second time in defense of Rizin belt late December. The contest fell off (due to knee injury) and, as well as Bellator, Rizin title has become vacant.