While it’s not a trade like the one that sent Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren, more inter-promotional efforts are being made, this time between Bellator and RIZIN.
Bellator announced through a press release Wednesday night that their bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell will fight RIZIN star and former UFC title contender Kyoji Horiguchi for RIZIN’s bantamweight championship. The bout will be contested over three rounds and take place at RIZIN 14 on Dec. 31 from Saitama, Japan.
“Working for the Japanese fight company K-1 was a magical time during my promotional career and I have always felt strongly that MMA in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ would rise again. It truly is amazing to see what Nobuyuki Sakakibara has been able to do thus far with Rizin FF, so when he reached out to me about putting Darrion Caldwell against Kyoji Horiguchi for Rizin’s belt, we spoke to Darrion and he jumped at the opportunity,” Bellator President Scott Coker said in the release. “Bellator wants to support Rizin, and by sending our bantamweight champion to compete during their New Year’s Eve event, we look forward to this leading towards more collaboration between the two promotions in 2019. I want to wish Darrion luck in his quest to prove he is the best 135-pound fighter on the planet.”
Caldwell won the Bellator bantamweight championship last year with a decision win over Eduardo Dantas. He defended against Leandro Higo earlier this year and also won a fight at featherweight against Noad Lahat this past August.
Horiguchi won RIZIN’s bantamweight grand prix in 2017 and is undefeated in MMA since losing to Demetrious Johnson with one second remaining in the fifth round in April, 2015.
RIZIN 14 is also scheduled to feature an exhibition boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa.