Flyweight Fisherman: An Interview with Kyoji Horiguchi

Fightland Blog

By James Goyder

Photos courtesy of Kyoji Horiguchi's manager

Kyoji Horiguchi recently scored his fourth straight win inside the Octagon after beating Louis Gaudinot on the stellar UFC 182 card but, before the Japanese flyweight talks fighting, he wants to focus on a subject which is just as close to his heart,

“I love fishing! I train during the week but at the weekend I go fishing, I do any fishing but black bass fishing is my favorite.”

It seems like a surprising combination of pastimes but Horiguchi relishes the challenge involved in trying to catch a fish in much the same way he enjoys assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a rival mixed martial artist,

“I like it because I have to think and come up with a strategy to catch the fish taking into consideration the weather, temperature and other conditions and I am really happy when everything goes according to plan and I catch a fish. The biggest I have ever caught is a 60 cms carp.”

The 24-year-old Karate specialist initially signed for the UFC as a bantamweight but dropping down to the 125 lbs division has thrust him into immediate title contention with Horiguchi currently ranked #8 and eyeing up reigning champions Demetrious Johnson.

With a 14-1 overall record there is no questioning Horiguchi’s credibility as a contender for the belt but he believes it will take at least a couple more victories to be granted a shot at the strap which is currently the long term property of the man known as "Mighty Mouse",

“I think after a few more wins I will be able to challenge for the UFC flyweight title. I hope so but I am ranked eighth, and there are many good and tough fighters ahead of me, it is really up to UFC but am I ready? Of course! I am ready to face anybody to reach my goal.”

The hype surrounding Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title defense against Daniel Cormier was intense and the eyes of the world were on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Horiguchi won a clear cut decision over Gaudinot.

Having earned his status as a top contender by competing on comparatively small shows like VTJ and Shooto a slot on the PPV portion of such a significant card was a marquee moment in Horiguchi’s burgeoning career and put a lot of pressure on his young shoulders but the 24 year old says he was oblivious to the size of the audience or the scale of the event,

“It was my honor to fight in a holy place for UFC and mixed martial arts and it was the largest venue and audience in my life but for me there was no special difference from previous shows because I just focused on the fight and was very calm in the Octagon.”

Horiguchi took home a cool $40,000 for defeating Gaudinot which is almost four times what he earned for his first UFC fight and he is pleased to see the size of his purse swelling with every win,

“I was really happy to get a new contract and appreciate how UFC have evaluated my performances so far and rewarded me for them. I will try my best in future to meet their expectations and to do my reach my own goals in MMA.”

At the top of Horiguchi’s wish list is the UFC flyweight title and it speaks volumes about the extent of his recent career progression that this now looks like an entirely realistic target. He is potentially two to three wins away from reaching the pinnacle of the sport and has undoubtedly come a long way since starting MMA as a teenager,

“I became interested in MMA when I was 16 or 17 and I started to train MMA at Krazy Bee when I was at 18 years old because Kid Yamamoto was my hero. My goal is to exceed him,” he said.

Yamamoto put together a 14 fight winning streak in his prime during a period in which he became the K-1 Heroes 155 lbs Grand Prix champion and beat the likes of Jadamba Narantungalag, Caol Uno, Genki Sudo, Kazuyuki Miyata and Bibiano Fernandes, establishing himself as arguably the top fighter in his division.

Horiguchi was the reigning Shooto 132 lbs champion before signing with the UFC and is on track to potentially surpass Yamamoto in terms of career achievement but first he hopes to help his mentor register a first UFC win.

Yamamoto will be making a comeback next month and Horiguchi will be playing a part in trying to resurrect the career of the man who inspired him to take up the sport,

“I came to Las Vegas to corner Kid Yamamoto when he made his UFC debut in 2011 and I will help him with whatever he needs to prepare for his upcoming fight, in fact we are training together now.”

Yamamoto will be have an opportunity to register that elusive first Octagon win when he faces Ramon Salazar at UFC 184 but, while the 37-year-old’s fighting days might be numbered, Horiguchi currently has the MMA world at his feet and lists two main ambitions for 2015,

“I only fought two times in 2014 so I hope the UFC can keep me more busy this year and also I want a fishing sponsor!”

Any fishing companies interested in sponsoring Kyoji Horiguchi can contact: fumi@infy.net.


Check out our film on Kyoji:

Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi