Kyoji Horiguchi showed up to fight Saturday night at UFC 186 in his main event title challenge against Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. That much you can’t deny. Unfortunately for the latest title hopeful from Japan, he came up short, as so many others have, against the best flyweight fighter the UFC has the offer. It was a fight that missed going the distance by a hair’s length, almost literally — Johnson tapped out the challenger via an arm bar with just a second left in the fight, a new UFC record.

Losing to Mighty Mouse is a common trend in the UFC’s flyweight division: he’s an active champion who has yet to taste defeat since dropping to 125lbs. That trend continued against Horiguchi.

Where does that leave the challenger? Working his way back up from the bottom, most likely.

With that in mind, here are a trio of suitable names for him to take on next.

Zach Makovsky vs. John Dodson Loser

While most favour John Dodson over Zach Makovsky in their upcoming tilt, either of these fighters would make an excellent bounce back fight for Kyoji Horiguchi, and the timing is right with their fight taking place mid-May. Horiguchi acquitted himself quite well against Mighty Mouse despite the losing effort, and would have an excellent chance against someone like Makovsky. Against Dodson, he’d be something of an underdog, but it would be an interesting fight nonetheless.

One interesting factor here is that even in losing to Johnson, Horguchi’s stock has risen ever so slightly simply by having been a title challenger, and one who hasn’t squared off against several of the top names in the division.

Ian McCall

Speaking of top names, Uncle Creepy needs a dance partner. Arguably one of the most popular fighters in the lower weight classes, McCall, who fought Mighty Mouse to a draw back in 2012 before losing in their rematch, had finally strung two wins together and was once again in the title hunt before a setback against John Lineker at UFC 183 in January. That bout, however, sent Lineker packing from the UFC as he once again missed weight. McCall, meanwhile, needs to right the ship, against someone with some name value. Coming off a title challenge, Horiguchi would be just that person.

McCall would also represent a big win for Horiguchi, and quickly get him back into the hunt. The more you look at this fight, the more sense it makes.

Jussier Formiga vs. Wilson Reis Loser

Jussier Formiga has almost been the forgotten flyweight in recent times. Despite being 3-1 in his last four and on a two fight win streak, no one’s talking about title contention for the Brazil native, despite his upcoming fight against Wilson Reis possibly giving him a crucial third win in a row in a shallow division.

This may be because Formiga also has two key losses on his record, to former title challengers John Dodson and Ian Benavidez. That said, he’s still ranked fourth over all in the division, tied with former title challenger John Moraga.

Should Formiga drop the Reis fight, a pairing with Horiguchi makes sense for both fighters. A fight with Reis has slightly less of an upside for Horiguchi, as Reis would then be borderline top fifteen, but Horiguchi is likely to drop to the outskirts of the top ten himself following UFC 186.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.