Kyoji Horiguchi has defeated Darrion Caldwell to win a Bellator title and stake his claim as one of the best bantamweights on the planet.
The reigning RIZIN bantamweight champion added the Bellator bantamweight title to his mantle early Saturday, after a grinding five-round fight at Bellator 222 in New York.
Horiguchi (28-2) now holds two wins over Caldwell and extends his run to 13 straight wins.
Caldwell sought to shut down Horiguchi in the opening rounds, wrestling him to the ground, but the Japanese veteran remained active on his back and continued to work.
Caldwell, however, was relentless. While he was successful with his takedowns, he was unable to do significant damage on the ground.
The shift came midway through the third round as Caldwell showed signs of slowing and Horiguchi opened up.
“The plan was to conserve energy at the beginning and then finish strong,” Horiguchi said in a post-fight interview.
After a full rive rounds, Horiguchi did enough to tip the scales in his favor and earn a decision victory with scores of 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.
The historic win means Horiguchi becomes the first Asia-based fighter to claim a Bellator title and the first to hold Bellator and Rizin titles simultaneously.