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Bellator 222: Kyoji Horiguchi Takes Bellator’s 135 Crown

Kyoji Horiguchi's remarkable, post-UFC run continues, as the Japanese star and RIZIN champ added Bellator's bantamweight title to his resume tonight.

Kyoji Horiguchi moved to 2-0 against Darrion Caldwell tonight at Bellator 222, and in doing so, he became both RIZIN and Bellator’s bantamweight champion.

Image Credit: Bellator / YouTube

Caldwell came out firing the odd kick, and after leaping at Horiguchi, he took the RIZIN champ down. Caldwell landed a few hard elbows and punches from above, but Horiguchi kept busy with strikes from the bottom. Eventually, the ref said Caldwell was holding onto the inside of Horiguchi’s gloves and the fight was resumed standing.

Horiguchi pressured at the beginning of round two, and darted in and out, but Caldwell took him down a couple of minutes in. Caldwell controlled from the top but didn’t offer much offense, while Horiguchi stayed busy with light punches to the champ’s head.  With less than 30 seconds left the referee stood the fighters up.

Not long into round three, the fight spilled to the mat, but this time around Horiguchi had the top position. Horiguchi wasn’t able to land much, and briefly got back to his feet, before the fight went back down in an ensuing scramble. As Caldwell got back to his feet, Horiguchi planted some punches and the two fired big strikes. Caldwell proceeded to score another takedown before the round ended.

Early into round four, Caldwell was forced to defend a tight looking, guillotine attempt, and he popped his head free. Once again, Caldwell controlled from the top, but it was Horiguchi landing more from the bottom. The fight returned to its feet eventually, and shortly before the round ended, Horiguchi scored with a nice trip.

In round five, Caldwell took the top position again on the floor but it was Horiguchi, once again, who was busier. Horiguchi looked for a choke more than once, but Caldwell anticipated well. Horiguchi got back to his feet momentarily with one minute left, but Caldwell countered with a TD. The latter proceeded to open a small cut under Horiguchi’s right eye, but he also took some big elbows from the UFC vet.

All three judges scored the bout for Horiguchi, handing the RIZIN champ Bellator’s 135 crown as well.

Here are the results for far for Bellator 222, which is taking place in New York City.

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Darrion Caldwell via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)

Taylor Turner def. Heather Hardy via TKO (punches) – R1, 3:53

Adam Borics def. Aaron Pico via knockout (flying knee) –  R2, 3:55

Valerie Loureda def. Larkyn Dasch via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Lindsey VanZandt def. Rena Kubota via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – R1, 4:04

Haim Gozali def. Gustavo Wurlitzer via submission (triangle choke) – R1, 4:02

Mike Kimbel def. Sebastian Ruiz via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)

Robson Gracie Jr. def. Oscar Vera via submission (armbar) – R1, 3:15

Marcus Surin def. Nekruz Mirkhojaev via split decision (30-27, 27-29, 29-27)

Phil Hawes def. Michael Wilcox via TKO (doctor stoppage) – R1, 5:00

John Beneduce def. Kenny Rivera via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

Kastriot Xhema def. Whitney Francois via TKO (punches) – R2, 3:17

Brandon Polcare def. Brandon Medina via submission (guillotine choke) – R1, 4:33

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