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Sergio Pettis (left) and Kyoji Horiguchi pose before their bantamweight title fight at Bellator 272. Photo: Bellator MMA

Sergio Pettis and Kyoji Horiguchi fight to crown true king of Bellator bantamweights

  • Sergio Pettis and Kyoji Horiguchi will battle it out for the bantamweight title at Bellator 272 on Friday in Connecticut
  • Heading into the fight, both men consider themselves the division’s top dog. ‘We’re going to find out who the real champion is,’ says Pettis

On Friday night, in the main event of Bellator 272 inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, Sergio Pettis and Kyoji Horiguchi will collide to crown the true king of the promotion’s bantamweight division.

Heading into the fight, both men know the comfort of the bantamweight throne well. The 28-year-old American Pettis is the current owner of that coveted seat, thanks to a decision win over Juan Archuleta in May, but Horiguchi has sat in it before, having captured the belt with a decision defeat of Darrion Caldwell in 2019.

The reason for the debate surrounding the division’s true champion stems from the fact that the 31-year-old Japanese fighter never lost the title, but vacated it when he sustained an injury.

“Words don’t bother me,” Pettis (21-5) told the Post when asked about Horiguchi’s recent assertions that he is the true Bellator bantamweight champion. “He can say what he wants to say and feel how he wants to feel.”

Horiguchi (29-3), who still holds the bantamweight championship in Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation, is widely considered one of the best fighters in the world. He also fights out of an unusual, side-on stance, thanks to his background in Karate, which makes him difficult to prepare for.

Pettis is well aware of the challenge ahead, and has enlisted Japanese kick-boxer Ren Hiramoto to impersonate Horiguchi in the gym.


According to Horiguchi, though, those efforts will not bear fruit.


“I don’t think [it will help],” Horiguchi told the Post. “Ren Hiramoto, he is a kick-boxer, not a karate guy.”

Horiguchi also recognises Pettis’ skills, and gives his rival props for levelling up over the last few years.

“He’s a really good fighter,” Horiguchi said. “He has good skills. I’ve watched a lot of his fights so I’m happy to fight with him.


“He finishes a lot,” he said. “He’s getting more powerful, it looks like.”


The Japanese star has been hard at work preparing for Pettis at American Top Team in South Florida, getting in rounds with a long list of notables, including ONE Championship flyweight king Adriano Moraes, PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, and UFC bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz.


“I’m a hard-worker in the gym,” he said. “I always keep training with champions. It gives me good motivation, so I like it. I have good skills. They teach me, and sometimes I teach them. It’s a good relationship.”

Kyoji Horiguchi joins Bellator, says ‘I can’t sit here and wait’

Horiguchi’s efforts have him confident that he will leave the Bellator cage this Friday with the belt wrapped around his waist once again.


“I will get the belt back ,” he said. “I’m really excited.”

Pettis, of course, has other plans.

“Either it’s going to a decision or I’m going to try to clip him,” Pettis said when asked for a prediction for the fight. “At 28-years-old, I really feel like I’m ready to let loose.”


“Friday night, we’re going to find out who the real champion is of this division.”