Bellator 272 outcomes, highlights: Sergio Pettis stuns with one-punch knockout of Kyoji Horiguchi to retain

Bellator MMA bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis was dropping practically each second of his title protection on Friday in opposition to former titleholder Kyoji Horiguchi, till he wasn’t.  

Pettis (22-5) rallied late in Spherical 4 to retrieve victory from the jaws of defeat by knocking Horiguchi out chilly with a shocking spinning again fist in the primary occasion of Bellator 272. The violent end contained in the Mohegan Solar Area in Uncasville, Connecticut, spoiled what had been a flawless return to the promotion for Horiguchi, who was compelled to vacate the 135-pound Bellator title he received in 2019 because of a knee damage.  

Horiguchi (29-4), the 31-year-old fighter from Japan, left the cage on a stretcher after the knockout and was transported to a neighborhood hospital, in keeping with Bellator officers. The end got here at 3:24 of the fourth spherical after Pettis missed a excessive kick try together with his proper leg and immediately spun into the knockout blow which the previous RIZIN champion by no means noticed coming.

Pettis, 28, had stated all through battle week that he did not think about himself the true Bellator champion, regardless of having outpointed Juan Archuleta for the title in Might, as a result of Horiguchi had by no means misplaced the belt contained in the cage.

 “I do not know if that does not signify it anymore,” Pettis stated. “I got here out right here and needed to get beat up for practically 4 full rounds. I got here out and stated to myself that I am dropping this battle and have to do one thing spectacular to show this round.” 

The cruel criticism Pettis gave of his efficiency main as much as the knockout wasn’t with out benefit. Horiguchi, who ended a 12-month layoff, was practically flawless in his execution for three-plus rounds and seemed to be on his method towards making a case as probably the perfect 135-pound fighter on the planet.  

Horiguchi took Pettis down with ease in every of the primary three rounds and routinely beat his opponent to the punch regardless of a attain drawback by darting out and in with clear strikes. Pettis wasn’t simply getting outlanded, Horiguchi’s unfastened and unpredictable fashion had succeeded in kind of disarming Pettis right into a torpid efficiency fueled by frustration. 

The one strike of any consequence Pettis appeared to land throughout the first three rounds was an upkick from his again in Spherical 2 that opened up a reduce under the suitable eye of Horiguchi. Pettis was additionally bleeding from his nostril on the time of the knockout as Horiguchi started to sense Pettis’ desperation and was touchdown routinely with onerous strikes.   

“I wanted to face some adversity and tonight, Horiguchi gave me all of that,” Pettis stated. “I had a tricky time choosing up his timing and rhythm. I am solely 28 and this battle confirmed me that I nonetheless have rather a lot to work on. I shall be again within the health club quickly.” 

Horiguchi outlanded Pettis in complete strikes by a margin of 73 to 19, in keeping with BD-Sport Inc. He additionally transformed on 4 of seven takedown makes an attempt.  

The victory was the fifth straight for Pettis and his fourth total since leaving the UFC to signal with Bellator in late 2019. Pettis, the youthful brother of former UFC light-weight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, recorded his first knockout win since 2013 beneath the RFA banner.  

Horiguchi beforehand went 7-1 within the UFC together with his lone defeat coming in opposition to Demetrious Johnson of their 2015 flyweight title bout. He went to win his subsequent 13 fights total, together with a 9-1 run in RIZIN.  

Each Pettis and Horiguchi will participate within the Bellator MMA Bantamweight World Grand Prix event which was introduced throughout Friday’s card. The eight-man draw begins in 2022 with the 135-pound title and a $1 million prize at stake for the winner. 

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