Kyoji Horiguchi never lost his Bellator bantamweight belt inside the cage. He was forced to return it after suffering a serious knee injury during training and will be challenging for the title again tomorrow.

He faces newly crowned champion Sergio Pettis at Bellator 272 and will be looking to reclaim the strap,

“I feel good, my body’s healthy and I’m ready to fight. I feel like I’m the real champion. Doesn’t matter that it’s a fight. I don’t get nervous, I just fight,” Horiguchi said.

Kyoji Horiguchi and Darrion Caldwell

Graft and talent

Pettis is in arguably the form of his career and is riding a three fight winning streak. This will be the first defence of his title but Horiguchi is convinced that he’ll find a way to finish the UFC veteran,

“I will beat him up. (But) there’s a flow to the fight and you can’t really predict what’s going to happen. I will concentrate right now on getting my belt back. That’s what I’m focused on right now,” he said.

These days Horiguchi is based at American Top Team. Despite being established as a multiple time champion and one of the best bantamweights on the planet he has been known to sleep at the gym.

Horiguchi is lauded by his trainers and team mates as an exceptionally hard worker. He’s a dangerous mix of graft and talent and ATT head coach, Dan Lambert has described him as the best fighter on his roster.

Kyoji Horiguchi and Scott Coker

Fake belt

He returned his Rizin bantamweight title in order to sign an exclusive contract with Bellator. Horiguchi seems to be fully focused on his American dream and feels Pettis is standing in his way.

There are parallels between the two fighters. Both had successful UFC spells, although Horiguchi fared better than Pettis, before deciding to take their talents elsewhere.

Both have thrived since leaving the UFC. Pettis hasn’t lost a single fight while Horiguchi has won ten out of 11 and avenged his only defeat.

Only one man will still have the right to call himself a champion after Bellator 272 and Horiguchi is adamant that it will be him,

“That’s my belt. Right now, Sergio has a fake belt. I will get the belt back. Of course.”