Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contenders Kyoji Horiguchi and Chico Camus will duel this Saturday (Sept. 26, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 75 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Horiguchi climbed to the top of the Flyweight division rather quickly, bursting into UFC with some highlight reel-worthy knockout victories. While he ultimately suffered the first loss of his Octagon career to the champion, the 24-year-old is still a must-watch fighter.
While Camus has yet to build a serious win streak like his opponent, he's proven himself a very tough competitor. Camus is a definite Top 15 125-pound fighter, and he's looking to move into the Top 10 by upsetting Horiguchi.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Darrell Montague (UFC Fight Night 40), Louis Gaudinot (UFC 182), Dustin Pague (UFC 166)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC 186)
Keys to Victory: One of the finest Karate fighters in the UFC, Horiguchi is excellent at managing distance both to counter and lunge in. With nine knockout wins to his credit, Horiguchi is clearly a very heavy hitter.
In this bout, Horiguchi will be looking to employ his usual strategy of outside kickboxing. Horiguchi likes to keep plenty of distance between himself and his opponent, as it allows him to dictate when exchanges will take place.
For the most part, Horiguchi attempts to land hard kicks from this range and will also unleash quick combinations. However, he's at his best when his opponent steps forward and initiates, as Horiguchi will make him come up short and land vicious counters.
Against Camus, that's a pretty ideal game plan. If "King" is too far out to either wrestle or box, he doesn't have a ton of options left.
He'll be forced to play Horiguchi's game.
To make this game plan work, Horiguchi needs to stay off the fence. In his most recent bout with Johnson, that's the area where his game really fell apart, and it allowed Johnson to take over. The Japanese athlete cannot let that happen again.
Record: 14-6 (1)
Key Wins: Brad Pickett (UFC Fight Night 57), Alpetkin Ozkilic (LFC 52), Dustin Pague (UFC 150)
Key Losses: Henry Cejudo (UFC 187), Chris Holdsworth (UFC 173)
Keys to Victory: Camus is a highly underrated fighter. The scrappy Wisconsin-native consistently puts up tough fights in losing performances and is always in the bout until the bitter end, a mentality that has allowed him to pick up some solid victories.
In this bout, Camus will need to bring his A-game. If he allows his opponent to move freely and dictate the range, he's likely to end up on the wrong side of yet another decision.
Instead, Camus needs to focus heavily on pressuring Horiguchi and cutting off the Octagon. If he can corral his opponent along the fence, it will be much easier for him to land punches and shoot for takedowns.
Moreover, Horiguchi definitely slowed down in his fight with "Mighty Mouse," whereas cardio has never been an issue for "King." Even if Camus isn't find success in the first round, forcing Horiguchi to fight from his back foot and ward off takedown attempts could definitely slow him down.
During this pressure, it's important that Camus doesn't overextend himself. He needs to methodically move forward and cut off the cage, not try to lunge in with wild punches. Otherwise, he's more likely to eat a nasty counter punch or hit air than hurt Horiguchi.
Bottom Line: While neither man is an immediate contender, that could be a different story for the winner in a year or two.
Horiguchi may have been beaten soundly by Johnson, but he put up a solid fight in the early rounds and connected on some nice strikes. Considering his youth and previous success, it's not unreasonable to think he could grow into a true challenge in the next few years.
He just needs to keep growing and winning fights.
On the other hand, Camus is proven tough, but beatable. The best prospects have gotten by him, so Horiguchi needs to win to be considered a member of that group.
This is a solid opportunity for "King" Camus. He put on a very respectable showing opposite a blue chip prospect in Cejudo, as he even had an argument to win the bout. If he can follow up that performance by taking out the former title challenger, he's certainly earned a spot inside the Top 10.
Alternatively, a loss continues to solidify Camus' place as gatekeeper to the Top 10. That's not the worst position in the world, but Camus surely has higher aspirations.
At UFC Fight Night 75, Kyoji Horiguchi and Chico Camus will throw down. Which man will leave the Octagon with a victory?