The Bellator 222 main card opens up with a cross-promotional title fight between Darrion Caldwell and Kyoji Horiguchi in a rematch of their New Year’s Eve battle.
New York, NY – Darrion Caldwell is one of Bellator’s best fighters. The former Division I All-American wrestler is 10-1 in the promotion and has been the bantamweight champion since 2017. He represented Bellator in RIZIN challenging for Kyoji Horiguchi’s belt on New Year’s Eve, but lost due to a late submission. This fight, though, will be in a cage rather than a ring.
“It’s just going to make all the difference. Obviously, I took an L the first fight, but look for everything to change on June 14. The approach doesn’t change, I just know where I want to be at in a cage, as opposed to a ring, I wasn’t too familiar with it, so I didn’t know where I wanted to be.”
Horiguchi is one of the most respected fighters in the game, and Caldwell was able to experience what makes Horiguchi a special fighter.
“He’s strong, he’s fast, his mental game is different than anybody I’ve fought. That’s not taking anything away from Horiguchi, he is a top three bantamweight in the world. I’m just the best there is, so it is what it is.”
The experience of fighting in Japan and representing Bellator was unlike any other for Caldwell, and he is very proud of being the one they called on.
“It felt great. Shout out to Bellator for that, because without Bellator none of this would be possible. You know, me fighting in Madison Square Garden. Who else would they send out there? I’m the only guy that has the balls, the cajones, to go out there in Tokyo and take on their champ.”
Along with the Saitama Super Arena, Madison Square Garden will be the biggest stage that Caldwell has ever performed on.
“It feels good, it’s every kid’s dream to be able to perform in Madison Square Garden. I think I’m right at home. I envisioned this. I was born for this, so this is right where I need to be.”
One of the surprising things about this event is how the main card starts off with this massive cross-promotional title fight. Caldwell sees the positives in this, though.
“I’m not surprised. You know I think it’s going to make for a better card. I think it’s going to make it much sweeter, I’ll get to go ahead and beat him up in there, and get to enjoy the card with everybody else.”
One of those fights that Caldwell will get to enjoy is Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta, which will likely determine the next bantamweight challenger.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight. I want to see the fight. They’re both talented fighters, they’re both tough guys. They’re both guys that are in title contention. This is clearly going to be a fight that separates one from the other.”
Dantas specifically wants another go at Caldwell after losing the belt to him.
“I think he’s a tough opponent, he’s a strong opponent. I do think he’s going to get the win, but he’s got Archuleta in front of him, so that’s a tough fight for him. If he happens to win, I’ll be glad to give him another fight.”
Watch Darrion Caldwell defend his bantamweight title against Kyoji Horiguchi to open up the Bellator 222 main card tonight at 10:00 p.m. EDT on DAZN.