The first RIZIN Fighting Federation event of 2019 went down on April 21 with RIZIN 15. It was a great night of fights as per usual from the Japanese based MMA leader.
In action, that night was none other than the RIZIN bantamweight king, Kyoji Horiguchi (27-2) who defeated Ben Nguyen via first-round TKO. The dominant 28-year old entered the ring for the first time since he won the title on New Year’s Eve 2018 at RIZIN 14 when he defeated the Bellator champion, Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell (13-2) in a crazy comeback effort.
Since that night, a rematch was inevitable.
Following Horiguchi’s recent win over Nguyen, RIZIN Founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara entered the ring to announce that Horiguchi vs Caldwell 2 was on for Bellator 222 on June 14 in Madison Square Garden. However, on Friday, Bellator President Scott Coker revealed that the fight wasn’t quite finalized just yet but that was the direction that they were indeed heading in.
Fast forward to Sunday and ESPN has now confirmed with Coker that the champion vs champion rematch is on. According to the Bellator President, if Horiguchi wins he will have to defend his Bellator title at least once a year.
For Horiguchi, this will be his first fight outside of Japan since he defeated Ali Bagautinov in November 2016 in his last UFC fight at UFC Belfast. It will be his first fight in the US since defeating Louis Gaudinot in January 2015 at UFC 182.
On Caldwell’s end, it will be his first fight since fighting Horiguchi the first time around and he’ll be looking to secure his second title defense at 135-pounds.
Here’s the full Bellator 222 line-up as it currently stands.
Light heavyweight – 205lbs: Lyoto Machida vs Chael Sonnen
Welterweight – 170lbs: (C)Rory MacDonald vs Neiman Gracie
Bantamweight – 135lbs: (C)Darrion Caldwell vs Kyoji Horiguchi
Catchweight – 175lbs: Dillon Danis vs Max Humphrey
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/28/2019