On December 31, 2018, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Rizin 14- Saitama was held. This was a massive year end mixed martial arts event held by the Rizin Fighting Federation. Rizin is a Japanese mixed martial arts organization that was created in 2015 by the former Pride Fighting Championships and Dream Stage Entertainment president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
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Kyoji Horiguchi versus Darrion Caldwell
While this card was headlined by kickboxing and MMA sensation Tenshin Nasukawa, who took on undefeated multiple weight world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a three round exhibition boxing match- which Floyd easily won by knocking down Tenshin three times in the first round, before his corner threw in the towel, the real main event for MMA fans and experts was the the former UFC fighter and Rizin star Kyoji Horiguchi versus Bellator MMA Bantamweight World Champion Darrion Caldwell for the inaugural Rizin Bantamweight Championship belt.
In this cross promotional bout, NCAA Wrestling Champion, Darrion Caldwell- Bellator’s Bantamweight World Champion was able to take down Rizin star Horiguchi in the first round and threatened with a deep kimura. Horiguchi was able to escape and stand back up, where he finished the round with kicks from a distance. In the second round and third round, Caldwell was once again able to use his wrestling skills to control Horiguchi. However, he was unable to inflict much damage, and Horiguchi was able to secure a guillotine choke at 1:19 of the third round for a spectacular come from behind victory.
After the match, Bellator president Scott Coker mentioned that the terms of the fight promotion he made with Rizin’s president Nobuyuki Sakakibara was that there would be a guaranteed rematch in Bellator. Additionally, if either fighter wins, then they will fight in their promotion to defend the belt.
Kyoji Horiguchi is a 28 year old professional mixed martial arts fighter who was born on October 12, 1990 in Takasaki, Gunma, Japan. Horiguchi currently fights out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, and has an awesome 26-2 record, with 13 wins by knock out, 3 by submission, and 10 by decision. Horiguchi is the current Rizin FC Bantamweight Champion, 2017 Rizin Bantamwieght Grand-Prix Champion, former Shooto Bantamweight Champion, and a former UFC fighter.
Horiguchi began taking karate classes when he was five years old. He soon began competing in full-contact competitions, and went on to become a regional champion. When he was 16 years old, he watched his first Pride Fighting Championships (MMA) event, and became interested in mixed martial arts. Upon high school graduation, he began training in mixed martial arts at the famous Krazy Bee Gym in Tokyo, Japan, which was headlined by famed MMA fighter Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, who was a K-1 Hero’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion (despite being a true Bantamweight), as well as a former Shooto,, Hero’s, and UFC fighter.
At the Krazy Bee Gym, Horiguchi was a regular training and sparring partner of Kid Yamamoto’s and he made his professional MMA debut in 2010, winning a decision over Ranki Kawana. Two fights later, he won the Shooto 2010 Rookie Tournament, where he defeated Seiji Akao by TKO in the second round. Other notable fights in his early MMA career include when Horiguchi won the Shooto Bantamwieght Championship on March 16. 2013, by defeating Hiromasa Ogikubo by rear naked choke submission. Later that same year, on June 22, Horiguchi fought the Pancrase Batamweight Champion, Shintaro Ishiwatari, at Vale Tudo Japan (VTJ) 2. He was able to defeat Shintaro in a close back and forth fight when he forced a TKO-punches early in the fifth round.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Horiguchi made his UFC debut on October 19, 2013 at UFC 166 against Dustin Pague. In this fight he was able to win via a TKO in the second round. He would have 8 total fights in the UFC, with an awesome 7-1 record- only losing to Demetrious Johnson on April 25, 2015, when they fought for the UFC Flyweight Championship at UFC 186 on Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Despite having such a stellar record, Horiguchi announced on February 17, 2017 that he would not renew his contract with the UFC.
Rizin Fighting Federation
On April 16, 2017, Horiguchi made his debut in Rizin FF, where he defeated Yuki Motoya by unanimous decision. He would go on to win a total of 8 fights (in 8 fights), winning the 2017 Rizin Batamweight Grand Prix, where he defeated Gabriel Oliveira by TKO on December 29,2017 and then beat Manel Kape (by arm triangle choke) and Shintaro Ishiwatari (by KO) 2 days later on December 31, 2017.
Aside from winning this Bantamweight tournament, Horiguchi also won the inaugural Rizin Bantamweight Championship by defeating Darrion Caldwell by Guillotine Choke in 2:12 of the third round on December 31, 2018.
Win Darrion Caldwell Submission (guillotine choke) 31-Dec-18
Win Hiromasa Ogikubo Decision (unanimous) 29-Jul-18
Win Ian McCall KO (punch) 6-May-18
Win Shintaro Ishiwatari KO (punches) 31-Dec-17
Win Manel Kape Submission (arm-triangle) 31-Dec-17
Win Gabriel Oliveira TKO (punches) 29-Dec-17
Win Hideo Tokoro KO (punches) 30-Jul-17
Win Yuki Motoya Decision (unanimous) 16-Apr-17
Win Ali Bagautinov Decision (unanimous) 19-Nov-16
Win Neil Seery Decision (unanimous) 8-May-16
Win Chico Camus Decision (unanimous) 27-Sep-15
Loss Demetrious Johnson Submission (armbar) 25-Apr-15
Win Louis Gaudinot Decision (unanimous) 3-Jan-15
Win Jon delos Reyes TKO (punches) 20-Sep-14
Win Darrell Montague Decision (unanimous) 10-May-14
Win Dustin Pague TKO (punches) 19-Oct-13
Win Shintaro Ishiwatari TKO (punches) 22-Jun-13
Win Hiromasa Ogikubo Submission (rear-naked) 16-Mar-13
Win Ian Loveland Decision (unanimous) 24-Dec-12
Win Manabu Inoue Decision (unanimous) 16-Jul-12
Win Tetsu Suzuki TKO (punches) 10-Mar-12
Loss Masakatsu Ueda Decision (majority) 8-Jan-12
Win Naohiro Mizuno KO (punches) 23-Sep-11
Win Yuta Nezu KO (punch) 18-Jul-11
Win Takahiro Hosoi TKO (punches) 29-Apr-11
Win Seiji Akao TKO (punches) 18-Dec-10
Win Keita Ishibashi TKO (doctor stoppage) 7-Aug-10
Win Ranki Kawana Decision (unanimous) 9-May-10
Darrion is a 31 year old professional mixed martial arts fighter fighting out of Pinnacle Mixed Martial Arts in Redlands, California. He is a NCAA Division 1 Champion, and a two time NCAA All American in college wrestling, where he wrestled for North Carolina State University. He is the current Bellator Bantamweight World Champion, and has a professional mixed martial arts record of 13 wins and 2 losses.
Darrion was born and raised in Rahway, New Jersey. In high school, he competed in numerous sports such as wrestling, football, and baseball. He was a two-time All-Region football player, but had even more success in wrestling, where he had a high school record of 146-4, and was a three time state champion.
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After high school, Darrion continued wrestling at North Carolina State University. In his freshman year, he posted a record of 20-6, and only missed being named All-American by one match. The next year (2007-2008), he went 36-5 and finished in fifth place in the nation, earning All-American status. In his Junior year (2008-2009), Caldwell went 38-1 and became the national champion by defeating the 2008 national champion and Dan Hodge Trophy (awarded to most outstanding wrestler), Brent Metcalf. In addition to winning the national title, Caldwell was named the most outstanding wrestler of the national championship.
However, during the summer before his senior season, he suffered major shoulder injuries, which required shoulder surgery. This resulted in him redshirting his 2009-2010 season, and coming back in 2010 to wrestle his last year. He was undefeated in 15 matches, but suffered another shoulder injury in the second round of the national championships- which ended his college career. Darrion finished with a 109-13 record, with 58 victories coming from pins. He also attempted to qualify for the 2012 United States Olympic team, but lost in the third round. It was at this point that Darrion decided to focus on fighting Mixed Martial Arts.
Mixed Martial Arts Career
Darrion announced on July 2012 that he would begin his mixed martial arts career fighting for Texas-based promotion Legacy Fighting Championship. He had his first fight on Legacy FC 14 on September 14, 2012, where he beat David Armas by unanimous decision. Caldwell would go on to win two more fights for Legacy FC, defeating Quiant Kempf by TKO, and Gerzan Chaw by unanimous decision.
After his third win, Caldwell announced in November 2013 that he would fight with Bellator MMA. In his first fight in Bellator, he won by guillotine choke in :50 of the first round against Lance Surma. He has fought eleven times in Bellator, compiling a great record of 10-1, with his sole loss coming from a guillotine choke by Joe Taimanglo on Jul y22, 2016 in Bellator 159. Interestingly Caldwell’s next fight would be a rematch against Joe, where he was able to defeat him by unanimous decision on December 3, 2016.
Upon losing to Kyoji Horiguchi on December 31, 2018 by guillotine choke, Darrion has stated that he looks forward to a rematch against Horiguchi under the Bellator banner. With Horiguchi winning the Rizin championship, he will now challenge Caldwell for the Bellator title in 2019.
Loss Kyoji Horiguchi Submission (guillotine choke) 31-Dec-18
Win Noad Lahat KO (punches) 17-Aug-18
Win Leandro Higo Submission (guillotine choke) 2-Mar-18
Win Eduardo Dantas Decision (unanimous) 6-Oct-17
Win Joe Taimanglo Decision (unanimous) 3-Dec-16
Loss Joe Taimanglo Submission (guillotine choke) 22-Jul-16
Win Joe Warren Technical Submission (rear-naked) 4-Mar-16
Win Shawn Bunch Submission (rear-naked choke) 25-Sep-15
Win Rafael Silva Decision (unanimous) 15-May-15
Win Anthony Dizy Decision (unanimous) 24-Oct-14
Win Joe Pingitore Submission (rear-naked choke) 2-May-14
Win Lance Surma Submission (guillotine choke) 14-Mar-14
Win Gerzan Chaw Decision (unanimous) 19-Jul-13
Win Quaint Kempf TKO (punches) 14-Dec-12
Win David Armas Decision (unanimous) 14-Sep-12
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