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Bellator 222 live blog: Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

Darrion Caldwell and Kyoji Horiguchi
Darrion Caldwell and Kyoji Horiguchi will compete for the Bellator bantamweight title Friday night.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This is the Bellator 222 live blog for Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi, a Bellator bantamweight championship fight at Friday’s Bellator event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

In their first meeting at Rizin 14 last December, Horiguchi defeated Caldwell via submission (guillotine choke) for the inaugural Rizin bantamweight title.

Check out the Bellator 222 live blog.

Round 1:
 Caldwell comes out and takes the center of the cage to start the fight. He lands a couple of good kicks early that back Horiguchi up and uses that to get in on a takedown. Horiguchi turtles and gives up his back but quickly gets back to the fence though he eats a big elbow. Caldwell sucks the hips out from the challenger but Horiguchi gets back to a seated position. This is the battle now, but Caldwell as a cross body armlock on Horiguchi and is landing some good elbows. Horiguchi gets his arm back and now we return to the seated stall position while both jockey for an edge. Caldwell manages to win out and land some big shots briefly before Horiguchi recovers half-guard. The referee stops the fight as Caldwell is called for holding onto Horiguchi’s glove and the fighters are reset on the feet. Nothing much happens and the round comes to an end.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 for Caldwell.

Round 2: The second round starts with Horiguchi taking the center of the cage. The challenger is having trouble navigating the size advantage of Caldwell and the champion’s kicks. Not a lot of action in this round. Caldwell is content with the occasional kick and Horiguchi is bouncing around looking for a way in. Caldwell finally shoots a single leg and gets it but Horiguchi scoots his way to the cage and they resume their seated/double-leg position battle. Caldwell is doing very little and Horiguchi gets up briefly but Caldwell stays on him and bring hims back down. Horiguchi is chipping away with insignificant shots but Caldwell is doing nothing but holding on and fighting for ankles that he is unable to get. The referee has finally seen enough and returns the fighters to their feet and Horiguchi presses forward but nothing happens. No real offense was landed on either side this round.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-10 (20-19 overall).

Round 3: Horiguchi comes out in the third round and takes the center, looking to pressure. Caldwell is sticking with his “occasional kick and do nothing” gameplan. A big strike attempt from Horiguchi got Caldwell to duck under but Horiguchi sprawled and got the front headlock. Now Horiguchi rolled him over and is in Caldwell’s butterfly guard but Caldwell is back up against the fence and looking to stand. Horiguchi steps over to half guard and Caldwell could be gassing. The challenger is chipping away with small shots and Caldwell retains his butterfly guard. Caldwell is unable to get up though and he’s taking some shots now. A big shot from Horiguchi gives Caldwell the chance to stand but a big shot from Horiguchi forces another shot and Horiguchi gets back on top again. Caldwell is definitely fatigued now and things could get bad for him down the stretch if he can’t catch a second wind. They get back to their feet and Horiguchi lands some shots but Caldwell gets a takedown. Horiguchi gets his back up to the fence again and Caldwell has no answer for this position. A couple of solid right hands from Caldwell as Horiguchi stands up ends the round.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Horiguchi (29-29 overall)

Round 4: Horiguchi swings big and Caldwell shoots in but Horiguchi locks in a guillotine. Caldwell is able to get out but Horiguchi backs himself up to the cage once again. More baby shots from Horiguchi while Caldwell just holds on. The boo birds come out as nothing is happening. Caldwell is now throwing some up elbows that are kinda neat but not damaging. This fight is real bad and there’s a decent chance Caldwell is getting the judge’s to score this for him with 0 offense. FINALLY the referee stands them up and Caldwell looks to be a little more spry. He’s certainly back on his kicking game while Horiguchi stalks forward. Caldwell shoots on a low single and gets nowhere. Horiguchi lands a good step in jab but Caldwell clinches him and forces him to the fence. Horiguchi spins him around and lands a takedown just before the bell.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Horiguchi (39-38 overall).

Round 5: Reasonably, that last round could have also been a 10-10. Caldwell is preventing offense from being landed on either side. We have Horiguchi up heading into the fifth but the judge’s may well favor Caldwell’s wall and stall.

The fifth round has Horiguchi bouncing around and Caldwell going back to the kicks. Horiguchi charges forward. Horiguchi throws a big left, a weird scramble ensues and suddenly we are back to the seated stall position. The crowd is immediately booing. Fortunately we have a referee who wants to watch the same boring thing over and over again so we get to keep seeing it because there is no stand up. This Caldwell’s ribs and the side of his head my be slightly tender tomorrow after the 100 punches Horiguchi has landed while stuck in this position. Horiguchi goes for a guillotine but Caldwell defends the hands. Horiguchi tries to stand but Caldwell is super good at holding on. If Caldwell manages to convince the judges, this will be the least impressive win of his career. Horiguchi stands and Caldwell lands a knee then gets in a on a single leg but Horiguchi is now getting off some actual good elbows and punches. Nope, now we are back to the same position. Horiguchi is now bleeding from a cut below the eye and the fight ends in the same position it was mostly contested in. A highly forgettable affair.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Horiguchi (49-47 overall).

Official result: Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Darrion Caldwell by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)

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