At RIZIN 14 on New Year’s Eve 2018, we saw a massive inaugural title fight that saw two promotions best bantamweight fighters go head to head.
Of course, on one side of the ring, there was the Japanese superstar, RIZIN’s Kyoji Horiguchi. On the other side, it was Bellator bantamweight champion, Darrion ‘The Wolf’ Caldwell who fought for the first time out of the United States.
The Alliance MMA staple would control the fight for its majority as many expected due to his size and wrestling advantages. However, in the end, it would be the crafty fisherman who got the last laugh.
Horiguchi would end up sinking in a guillotine choke late in the third round after a Caldwell takedown that led to him pulling off one of – if not the biggest comeback of 2018. And talk about a way to become a champion.
After the win, it was expected that the two would rematch as soon as they could since Caldwell was a champion going into the bout… Just for another organization.
Instead, the 28-year old Takasaki native has gone on to destroy former UFC top 10 flyweight, Ben Nguyen, in just under three minutes at RIZIN 15 this past weekend.
Immediately following the bout, RIZIN founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara entered the ring to address the crowd and let it be known that the rematch would be happening next but this time inside the Bellator cage in Madison Square Garden. That event is set to go down on June 14 and be headlined by Chael Sonnen vs Lyoto Machida.
However, despite all this, Bellator President Scott Coker says not so fast; the rematch isn’t official just yet. But he’s obviously happy to continue doing business with his Eastern MMA counterpart.
“There’s nothing contracted but we’re working on it, but there’s nothing contracted because you know, it’s not going to be overnight, we all know that,” Coker told BJPenn.com. “But when you’re dealing with two organizations, two fighters, just translating the documents back and forth…
“You can imagine. The one thing I told Sakikabara is, ‘Look, we’ll fight any of your guys and win, lose, draw… It doesn’t matter. The only thing I ask is that we have to have access to the fighter if they become the champion. So if ‘DC’ is going to put this belt and Horiguchi wins, we have to have access to Horiguchi in the future. So we’re trying to work out the final details of that.”
When it comes to a potential rematch, the obvious biggest differences would be the enclosure in which the fight is fought in as Bellator uses a traditional cage opposed to the ring.
“I think that the first time, DC seemed a little bit uncomfortable in the ring, you know, and wasn’t able to hold him down and just, it’s just different,” He said. “It’s different. But I give Horiguchi a lot of credit, coming to come fight DC, it was part of the deal, but you know, he could have easily said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it now.’ But he wants to come fight and we want that to happen badly.”
At the aforementioned RIZIN 15 card, another Bellator fighter was also in action as it was Muhammad ‘King Mo’ Lawal’s turn to try and grab a second career win over Jiri Prochazka as well as a shiny new title. Unfortunately for King Mo, Prochazka crushed those hopes with his fists in the third round.
Although he was confident his guy in King Mo would get the job done, now that Prochazka is champion, Coker is excited and hopeful to send over some more challengers over for the streaking Czech dynamo.
“I love when my fighters want to go to Japan and fight. Whenever one of my fighters want to go there, I never say no.”– Scott Coker
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/26/2019