Bellator 222 Results: Kyoji Horiguchi More Effective, Wins Bantamweight Title Over Darrion Caldwell

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Kyoji Horiguchi Bellator 222
Credit: Bellator MMA

Kyoji Horiguchi captured the Bellator bantamweight title with a gritty performance against Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222.

Kyoji Horiguchi returns to America in an attempt to capture the Bellator bantamweight belt. He’s been brilliant since leaving the UFC in 2017, winning nine straight fights including a submission victory over Darrion Caldwell on New Year’s Eve to defend his RIZIN bantamweight belt. He’s fought since then, defeating former UFC flyweight Ben Nguyen by first-round knockout.

Darrion Caldwell is one of Bellator’s best homegrown products. The Division I All-American is 10-1 in Bellator with one defense of his bantamweight title. Of those 10 victories, five are by submission and one is by knockout.

Darrion Caldwell opened the fight with a head kick that was deflected by Kyoji Horiguchi. He threw two more with one connecting, then landed a single leg takedown against the cage. Caldwell drilled him with an elbow to the face while securing full guard. “The Wolf” began landing hard elbows to the seated Horiguchi. The Japanese star was having issues trying to return to his feet. There was a bit of a stalemate that turned out to be caused by Caldwell holding onto the gloves of Horiguchi, provoking a referee stand-up. After the stand-up, Horiguchi landed a rushing left hand that made Caldwell smile, and the round came to a close.

Cageside Press Scores the Round 10-9 Caldwell

Caldwell started the second round with more kicks from distances as Horiguchi was light on his feet and looking for the left hand. Caldwell ducked under and landed another single-leg takedown, driving Horiguchi to the cage. Again, he was in a seated position, but worked his way up only to get taken down again. Caldwell was a bit less active this time on top, and the fight was eventually stood up. Caldwell threw a kick before the round came to a close.

Cageside Press Scores the Round 10-9 Caldwell

Horiguchi went to the body with a kick to start the third round. Caldwell went in for a takedown, but Horiguchi sprawled brilliantly into a headlock, working for a choke. Caldwell rolled out and Horiguchi claimed full guard, then passed to half. After returning to guard, Horiguchi postured up to deliver a big punch, allowing Caldwell to stand up. Horiguchi connected with a left as Caldwell shot, leading to another sprawl and extended top position for Horiguchi. Caldwell rolled to all fours and Horiguchi took advantage with punishing ground-and-pound. The Bellator champ broke free, then landed a takedown of his own, holding Horiguchi there for about a minute until he stood up near the end of the round.

Cageside Press Scores the Round 10-9 Horiguchi

The fourth round started with a big scramble that led to a guillotine choke attempt for Horiguchi. It was tight, but Caldwell pushed his way out of it and drove Horiguchi to the cage. With Horiguchi seated, the champions were in a stalemate again. With about 90 seconds left in the round, the fighters were stood up. Horiguchi pushed forward with kicks, forcing Caldwell to take a weak shot at a single-leg that the Japanese bantamweight avoided with ease. Horiguchi caught Caldwell with a left hand, then ended the round with a takedown.

Cageside Press Scores the Round 10-9 Horiguchi

The final round started with a blitzing combo from Horiguchi, but nothing of significance landed. Another big left hand landed for Kyoji, but Caldwell chained it into a takedown. Again, Horiguchi was seated against the cage with Caldwell content to pin him there. Despite the boos raining in from the crowd, the referee refused to stand them up. With a minute left, Horiguchi stood up, landed a big left and dropped some elbows on Caldwell as he attempted a takedown. Caldwell eventually worked his way to the cage, but it might not have been enough to take the fight.

Cageside Press Scored the Round 10-9 Horiguchi (48-47 Kyoji Horiguchi)

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Darrion Caldwell by Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)

Check out the full results from Bellator 222 here!

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