Bellator has done it again.
On RIZIN’s New Years Eve show, Darrion Caldwell – Bellator’s bantamweight king – will be fighting Japanese star Kyoji Horiguchi. Remember when the UFC sent Chuck Liddell to fight in PRIDE FC? This is similar, except Caldwell might actually win. And it’s cool as hell that Bellator is doing this cross-promotional thing.
Horiguchi is no pushover, though. He’s already won a RIZIN bantamweight grand prix, and was 7-1 in his UFC run, losing only to then-champ Demetrious Johnson. Caldwell is tough, the “Gooch” is tough, and this fight should be bonkers.
Here’s the official release:
Bellator is pleased to announce that the organization’s current bantamweight titleholder Darrion Caldwell (13-1) will represent the promotion in an exciting matchup against 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix winner Kyoji Horiguchi (25-2). The two will compete for the inaugural Rizin bantamweight championship at Rizin 14 on Monday, Dec. 31 from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
In the three-round (15-minute) Rizin FF world championship bout – which will be held in a ring under Rizin’s unique rule set – the victor of Caldwell vs. Horiguchi will leave Japan’s historic combat sports venue a Rizin FF champion. Caldwell’s Bellator bantamweight title will not be on the line in the contest.
“I am very grateful and honored that Bellator and Scott Coker would send us their unarguable bantamweight champion to fight for Rizin’s first-ever world title fight. This title fight will be a true champion vs. champion to determine the world’s best bantamweight fighter,” Rizin FF President Nobuyuki Sakakibara said. “We hope this kind gesture will kick off of a series of exciting matchups between both promotions in 2019. My dream would be that eventually we can co-promote a mega event in both countries with a ‘Champion Carnival’ taking place where stories and rivalries can be built and told.”