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MMA Superstar to Watch: Kyoji Horiguchi

Kyoji Horiguchi isn’t a household name on a worldwide scale but on the Japanese circuit he is someone to keep an eye out for.

Horiguchi worked his way up the Shooto ranks beginning in small gyms fighting for crumbs before working his way up to being a Class-A Shootist — This is a tried and true system that has produced more notable names than I could list.

The once beaten bantamweight began training alongside UFC featherweight Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and within seven months of his professional debut he would be named the 2010 Shooto Rookies Tournament Champion.

The Shooto Rookies Tournament is a concept put together to determine the best rookie fighters on the Shooto roster, the same concept that has spawned top-ranked fighter such as Yasuhiro Urushitani, Hiroyuki Takaya, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Takeya Mizugaki.

Horiguchi has proven to be the star of the 2010 crop displaying his rollicking power-punching that has put the nail in the coffin for six opponents to date.

His biggest victory to date came over Shooto Rookies tournament 2009 runner-up Yuta Nezu handing the 30-year-old his second-straight defeat from a string of lightning fast punches.

The lone defeat of his career came just eight days into the new year as he faced former Shooto featherweight kingpin Masakatsu Ueda.

Hiroguchi was able to land a series of mind-numbing shots but the high-level wrestling coupled with the submission chops and huge experience edge over his 22-year-old foe proved to be too much.

Last weekend he bounced back from his lone career setback, the Shooto: 3rd Round event took place on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

The emotional event was capped off with Nam Jin Jo defeating Shinichi Kojima on points but the talk of the town was Horiguchi’s blistering of Tetsu Suzuki.

Suzuki garners more attention than your average Japanese journeyman due to his questionable off-the-wall antics but he also has a loaded skill-set and faced some of the best in Japan.

Suzuki knew of the kind of power this Japanese prodigy packed so he relentlessly searched for a takedown while taking a beating with a series of knees, punches and kicks that floored “Hadairo” within minutes.

When he hit the mat he lifelessly hooked for a leg before Horiguchi rained down with a series of punches before the referee was forced to step in and stop the action.

The Krazy Bee product is quickly becoming on the best prospects on the market, don’t be surprised if the UFC or Bellator are knocking down his doors looking to ink this talented bantamweight.

Here is his shortly-lived bantamweight affair:

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