Rizin 26 is set for Saitama Super Arena on New Year’s Eve. The event will be headlined by a bantamweight title rematch between current champion Kai Asakura and former champion Kyoji Horiguchi.

Asakura (16-2) will be making the first defence of the title he won at Rizin 23. He will be taking on the first fighter to ever hold the belt.

Horiguchi (28-2) never lost his title inside the ring. He was forced to relinquish it after suffering a serious knee injury during training last November.

The two men do have history though. At Rizin 18 they met in a non title fight with Asakura needing just 68 seconds to finish Horiguchi in what was considered a major upset.

The UFC veteran suffered an injury which derailed the rematch. Asakura also suffered a setback when he was stopped by Manel Kape at Rizin 20, in a fight which had the vacant bantamweight belt on the line.

Kape would subsequently leave for the UFC and Asakura finally earned the right to call himself a champion in August, stopping Hiromasa Ougikubo at Rizin 23.

The road to the rematch has been bumpy for both men, with Horiguchi missing an entire year of competition and Asakura suffering an unexpected defeat to Kape. But on December 31st they will finally fight for the Rizin bantamweight title.

Rizin 26, Tokyo, December 31st
Kyoji Horiguchi (c) vs. Kai Asakura (For bantamweight title)