Exclusive interview with Kyoji Horiguchi “Tokoro is a legend in Japanese MMA. That is why I am going to go in there and demolish him.”


“I respect Tokoro very much, and he’s a legend in Japanese MMA. That is why I am going to go in there and demolish him.”

[Interview via video chat]

Q) Your opponent for the opening round for this year’s GP has been determined as Hideo Tokoro.

H) Yes, I respect him very much and is a legend in Japanese MMA, so I plan on demolishing him.

Q) You are going to go in and demolish a legend… What went through your head when you got the confirmation?

H) I had a hunch that this was going to happen. So I look at this a business. Nothing will change. I have watched him fight from back in the day, and there is a part of me that looks up to him, so deep inside, I’m excited to be able to fight such fighter.

Q) Tokoro has mentioned that you are a monster

H) Is that so… I feel that that is not a proper way to describe your opponent you are about to fight.

Q) It means that you carry that fear factor to make him say that.

H) Well….. maybe.

Q) You are featured in the center of the event poster.

H) Yes, they put me in the middle.

Q) That proves that you are the center of Japanese MMA.

H) I don’t know about that, but I do know that I am obligated to lead the industry to raise awareness and grow popularity of the sport.

Q) It seems like you are on your own mission. Speaking of popularity, you just recently featured in a fashion magazine called BITTER. You were posing in the middle of the biggest intersection in Shibuya in a narcissistic way.

H) They told me to pose like that! I didn’t choose that location and pose lol

Q) It’s great to see that you are getting exposure outside of the fight industry.

H) Yes, I agree. But it is quite embarrassing though.

Q) You recently fought on April 16th for you RIZIN debut, which has been a while from the last time you fought in Japan. How was the response?

H) The response was good. Old friends called me out of the blue saying that they saw me on TV and stuff. They all just want to jump on the wagon lol

Q) Maybe, but for everybody who knows you, it must be a great influence especially for the younger generation from your Karate Dojo and those who look to follow your path as a professional fighter.

H) I think so too. It was the same when I fought in the UFC, but everybody surrounding me are all happy when I fight in Japan.

Q) As a fan, it is great to be able to watch you fight live.

H) But at the same time, it gives my master to heavily criticize my fights. He would be like “What kind of performance was that??” lol

Q) He has high hopes in you.

H) I guess so.

Q) You never tend to talk too much.

H) Are you telling me to tweet more often?

Q) I didn’t have that intention, no. But I wonder what’s going through your mind.

H) Oh, ok.

Q) I feel that you are thinking a lot about what you speak, and wisely choosing your words.

H) That, I don’t agree. I don’t have enough words to choose from lol

Q) You speak by instinct?

H) I would put it that way.

Q) How do you use your mind when you fight?

H) It differs depending on the opponent, but mainly on how to land my strikes, and how to bait them in order to do so, anticipate what he’s going to do so be ready for that moment, simple things like that.

Q) You obviously think differently from when you talk and when you fight.

H) I think so.

Q) Do you feel that you would be a good commentator?

H) Absolutely not lol

Q) It’s not one of your greatest skills?

H) One of my worst lol I can explain the situation, but I don’t know what each fighter is thinking during the fight, I have no idea. I’m not that smart to describe what people are thinking, no way.

Q) You think it’s impossible lol But I think your pure honestly is something that draws the fans.

H) I have no idea.

Q) Do you still make decisions by instinct?

H) Yes, most of the times. But sometimes I think to myself and reconsider before I execute.

Q) That is by instinct too right?

H) Yes. Ultimately, the goal is the same.

Q) Do you ever feel down?

H) I become a bit negative when I’m tired.

Q) Is that so.

H) It’s not necessarily negative, but when I get too tired, I just don’t feel like doing anything. After training for a week straight, it’s just super hard to get yourself motivated to get yourself back in the gym on Fridays and Saturdays lol

Q) Its nice to hear things a normal person would say. Many people with regular jobs can relate to what you just said.

H) Really? But for some reason I can get a better session outs of it when I feel that way.

Q) That’s interesting.

H) I recently tweeted about that. “I feel I can move better when I’m fatigue.”

Q) I see. What motivates you to continue to fight?

H) Relocating to US and learning new things at ATT, and I can feel that I’m getting better every day. Fighting is my passion. It gives my joy.

Q) So learning Martial Arts and becoming a better fighter is the motivation.

H) Yes. At ATT, there are so many fighters you can train with. I don’t actually remember their names, but you have UFC fighters, local champions, and you can learn from everybody.

Q) It looks like you have having a productive time in the US.

H) Most definitely.

Q) Have you completely adjusted to living over there?

H) I’m getting the hang of it. I’m starting to understand the language, and I can respond in simple words.

Q) Are simple words enough to get by?

H) II think they get the idea of what I’m trying to express.

Q) Your style doesn’t change no matter where you are.

H) Sure doesn’t lol

Q) That’s what makes you who you are! Thank you for your time!

H) No problem, I’m going to win this fight by KO, so come watch me live!!