With friends like this who needs enemies? Bellator has snatched Kyoji Horiguchi from Rizin, in a move that will surely burn all bridges between two promotions that previously worked together.
Rizin allowed Horiguchi to compete at Bellator 222 where he won the bantamweight title. He subsequently had to return the belt after suffering a serious knee injury in training.
While Nobuyuki Sakakibara was happy for his fighters to appear on Bellator cards and seemed to think the relationship was strong Scott Coker clearly had other ideas. He waited for Horiguchi’s Rizin deal to expire and then signed him to an exclusive contract.
The Bellator president didn’t even bother to mention Rizin when announcing the signing:
We have signed former @BellatorMMA Bantamweight World Champion @Kyoji1012 Horiguchi and I can’t wait to see him compete in our stacked bantamweight division. pic.twitter.com/m2YKHJf2J0
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) September 10, 2021
Promotions have worked together on several occasions in the past but these partnerships never seem to last. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and Rizin even rushed out a photographed written statement claiming this was all part of a plan to send Horiguchi to Bellator.
But tellingly there is absolutely no mention of Rizin in the Bellator announcement, with Horiguchi announcing yesterday that he was a free agent and had returned his bantamweight title. It seems the partnership is well and truly over.