Kyoji Horiguchi will be out of action for at least 10 months after tearing the ACL and damaging the meniscus in his right knee. Earlier today Rizin announced that he had asked to revoke his status as bantamweight champion and return the belt.

That would presumably leave the bantamweight title vacant with Kai Asakura, who stopped Horiguchi at Rizin 18, in pole position to challenge for the belt.

Asakura, who had initially been scheduled to face Horiguchi on December 31st, will be on the Rizin 20 card. He doesn’t currently have an opponent but it could well turn out to be a title fight.

Meanwhile Horiguchi issued an apologetic message to the fans:

“I am terribly sorry. I have injured myself and have just had surgery. And I am forced to withdraw from the Rizin 20 event… When I think about everybody who was looking forward to my fight on NYE I am lost in words and have an indescribable feeling of guilt for everybody. I am sorry. I am sorry to Kai Asakura, I am sorry to all the fans. I cannot describe how I feel in words… I have been fighting as a professional for about 10 years since graduating high school and it’s not that I haven’t suffered any injuries but I was able to come all this way without any serious injuries. But I have felt some abnormalities in my body from last year but I didn’t take these signs too seriously. I started to train again in October but failed to realize how much wear and tear my body has obtained. And my ligament in my knee snapped. This was all because I took my body’s warnings lightly. I will be repeating myself to say I am terribly sorry about my injury and my withdraw from the fight. But I have decided to take this opportunity to heal my body and focus on recovering so I can start off with a fresh mind and body. I will need to overcome this obstacle to fulfill my goal to revive the Japanese fight scene. I believe that I need to use this opportunity to start over and rebuild towards that goal. I grew up watching Pride and that is why I became a fighter. I will not stop until the Japanese fight scene is back to where it used to be or even better. I am finally recovering from my surgery and just started rehabilitation on Monday in Florida. I have been down all this time but now my mind is set and I know what I need to do. However, I still cannot take a single step. I will work hard and focus on showing you the stronger and better version of Kyoji Horiguchi. And hopefully I can take part in reviving the Japanese fight scene. Oss.”

Horiguchi remains the Bellator bantamweight champion at the time of writing. However it seems likely he will vacate that title too.