Kyoji Horiguchi talks recent UFC title fight, new grappling fury

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UFC Flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi
UFC Flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi

A press conference was held on July 2, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan to announce several new matches for UFC Fight Night Japan. Kyoji Horiguchi, recent Flyweight title contender, will fight on September 27th at the Saitama Super Arena.

Horiguchi, the former SHOOTO Champion, will be fighting against a yet-to-be-announced opponent. Also on the card will be Horiguchi’s Coach, legendary fighter KID Yamamoto, and Kiichi Kunimoto. KID will face Legacy FC Champion Matt Hobar, and Kunimoto will face Li Jingliang.

Krazy Bee fighter Horiguchi as shot into fame within a short period of time, from SHOOTO to UFC title contender. He did not beat the Champion, Demetrious Johnson, but he showed his capabilities. And he learned where to improve.

MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Kyoji Horiguchi during the UFC Fight Night Japan press conference about that title fight, his career outlook, and what he feels he needs to improve upon.

MMA-in-ASIA: Your most recent bout was the most high-profile of your career, a title shot against reigning champion Demetrious Johnson. You went 5 rounds with him, but sadly gave to a submission at the final second. After that fight, in many interviews you said you have a new confidence to be a champion in UFC after the fight. What do you need to change in yourself to be a champion?

Horiguchi: My ground skills. Because my striking skills are already at the top level. But my ground skills are not there yet. I have to focus on defending grappling because I am not good at grappling. I will be a champion when my grappling skills reach the level that I am able to attack from any position on the ground.

MMA-in-ASIA: You were fixed to the ground by champion. Do you think the reason is that you did not have the weapons on ground that you needed?

Horiguchi: Yes. If I had a high level of ground skills, he would have had a hard time attacking me on the grand. Because he would be wary of my counter attacks.

MMA-in-ASIA: Do you want to be a grappler who can submit from the bottom position in near future?

Horiguchi: I hope I can submit from top and bottom positions.

But my ideal is that I will submit my opponent from on top.

MMA-in-ASIA: You were taken down many times in cage, more than any fight in your entire career. What was the difference between Johnson’s take down technique and other opponents’?

Horiguchi: It was timing. His timing is incredible. I assume that he has learned a lot of this during his long career.

MMA-in-ASIA: You have always shown incredible takedown defense. And even if you were taken down, you could work your way back up quickly. But you could not show that skill against Johnson. What was the reason?

Horiguchi: His technique. He did not have huge power. I was pinned by his technique. Especially his timing.

MMA-in-ASIA: Is the reason you were taken down because your striking skills are at the same level as his or what?

Horiguchi: No. I think my striking skills are better than his. He attempted to take down me because of this.

MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have a theme for your next fight?

Horiguchi: Grappling.

I want to elevate my grappling skills to submit my opponent in the cage.