Reigning Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion Ian
Loveland is set to meet Shooto prospect Kyoji
Horiguchi on Dec. 24 at
Vale Tudo Japan 2012.
Sherdog.com confirmed the development Wednesday with Loveland’s
management. Staged by Shooto
promoter Sustain, VTJ 2012 will take place Christmas Eve at an
as-yet-unannounced venue in Tokyo.
Loveland has won nine of his last 11 starts and enters the bout on
the heels of two sizzling knockout victories. Since his 1-2 run in
the UFC, the 29-year-old “Barn Owl” has captured the vacant TPF
135-pound strap by defeating Alexander
Crispim in May, and defended it against Casey Olson
in September. The Sports Lab representative has recorded finishes
in 14 of his 16 professional wins.
A training partner of Kid
Yamamoto at Tokyo’s Krazy Bee gym, 22-year-old Horiguchi has
lost just once in nine pro outings, with that blemish coming in a
January decision against Bellator vet Masakatsu
Ueda. The 2010 Shooto rookie champ has rebounded with a March
stoppage of established grappler Tetsu Suzuki
and a July outpointing of Pancrase’s Manabu
Held annually from 1994 to 1999, the Vale Tudo Japan series has
featured a host of notable names, including Randy
Gracie and Takanori
Gomi. The series was resurrected in 2009 and featured Gomi’s
final appearance before signing with the UFC.