Kyoji Horiguchi likely to make Bellator debut at Madison Square Garden
After securing another first-round finish just moments ago at RIZIN 15, Kyoji Horiguchi had a brief conversation with RIZIN boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara inside the ring post-fight.
The topic of discussion was his inevitable shot at Bellator gold after defeating their champion on NYE to become the first ever RIZIN Bantamweight Champion. We knew the rematch was happening, but we didn’t know any other details.
That all changed tonight.
Though not exactly “official,” it seems as though a fight between Horiguchi and Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell is in the works for the upcoming Bellator MSG show on June 11.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell II
What an incredible opportunity this would be for Kyoji Horiguchi (27-2) to compete in America once again, at one of the most renowned venues on the planet; Madison Square Garden. Home to some of the most iconic boxing matches of all time, and some monumental MMA cards in recent years.
The sensational American Top Team fighter has won 12-straight, including seven stoppages. The former UFC title-challenger is a RIZIN Grand-Prix Champion and recently became the RIZIN Bantamweight Champion by submitting Bellator bantamweight king Darrion Caldwell last December. As mentioned above, he faced fellow UFC veteran Ben Nguyen moments ago in Japan and won via first-round knockout.
His current streak includes finishes against the likes of Shintaro Ishiwatari, Manel Kape, Ian McCall, and, of course, Darrion Caldwell.
Darrion Caldwell (12-2, 1NC) handled his loss to Horiguchi with nothing but class, this in-part to the tremendous support he had from Scott Coker and Bellator MMA before, during, and after the contest.
Prior to this defeat, he had won four-straight contests, all of which were quite pivotal for him. Caldwell defeated Joe Taimanglo in dominant fashion, getting revenge on Taimanglo for handing him his first loss in the fight prior. He then dominated longtime champ Eduardo Dantas before defending the title against another elite Brazilian in the form of Leandro Higo.
Due to lack of challengers at the time, his next fight was up a division at featherweight where he manhandled and finished Noad Lahat in the second round.
UPDATE: The Horiguchi vs. Caldwell rematch has been made official for Bellator 222 at MSG.
If Horiguchi wins the championship, he will be contractually obligated to one title defense per year.
Bellator NYC will take place on June 14, live from the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. The card will feature a light heavyweight fight between veterans Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida, as well as a Welterweight Grand-Prix match-up between Neiman Gracie and the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch.