RIZIN continued its annual tradition of a New Year's Eve event to close 2023 even if it did not involve Bellator.
To headline RIZIN 45, former bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi faced off against 23-year-old Makoto Takahashi — often credited as Makoto Shinryu — for the promotion's inaugural flyweight belt. The two fighters previously met at Bellator MMA x RIZIN 2 on July 30 for Bellator's inaugural flyweight championship resulting in an anti-climactic no-contest due to an eye poke just 25 seconds into the fight.
While Horiguchi entered the fight with a significant experience edge and arguably RIZIN's biggest star, Shinryu had not lost a fight since 2018. Despite his young age, the Japanese prodigy is already in his seventh year of professional fighting with a 16-1-1 record not including the no-contest with Horiguchi.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Shinryu 2 result
The odds indicated Horiguchi as a sizeable favorite, but Shinryu commanded respect from the start by controlling the former bantamweight champion for a majority of round one.
From the beginning, it was clear Shinryu had the strength advantage. Horiguchi managed to stuff Shinryu's takedown and reverse position, but the 23-year-old's superior grappling and pressure allowed him to steal the first round.
Not wanting to re-engage in a grappling match, Horiguchi immediately opened round two with a head kick and hurt the young challenger. Horiguchi rushed in a clinch and managed to take Shinryu down but was quickly reversed.
Horiguchi managed to get back up and hurt Shinryu again on the feet, establishing a clear striking advantage. Clearly gassed, Shinryu attempted to force another clinch but ended up on his back. In an attempt to return to his feet, Horiguchi slipped his arm beneath the young fighter's chin and sunk in the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Kyoji Horiguchi proposes to his girlfriend after submitting Makoto Shinryu at RIZIN 45
As fun as the fight was for Horiguchi, his night would get better after the win.
In his post-fight interview, Horiguchi emphatically popped the question to his partner in front of his home crowd. Horiguchi's girlfriend would emotionally say yes to make the couple now engaged.