Bellator 272 results: Sergio Pettis knocks Kyoji Horiguchi out cold with perfect spinning backfist

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Things didn’t look like they were going Sergio Pettis’ way Friday night until they did in remarkable fashion.

After a difficult first three-and-a-half rounds, Pettis (22-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) delivered an all-time violent knockout when he flattened Kyoji Horiguchi with a perfectly placed spinning backfist, which stopped the contest at 3:24 of Round 4, to retain his bantamweight title.

Adding to the shock was the fact that, for all intents and purposes, Pettis was down three rounds to none against Horiguchi heading into the fourth.

The opening round began with a portion of the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd behind their countryman – and another group was audibly supportive of the internationally popular Japanese fighter.

Horiguchi scored a takedown midway through the first round but wasn’t able to do much with it. For the rest of the round, the fight stayed standing. A technical striking match ensued, but Pettis struggled with Horiguchi’s footwork and movement.

In Round 2, it was more of the same. Horiguchi got the fight to the canvas. After a brief time on the ground, Pettis shot up a submission, which allowed him back up. Once again, Horiguchi showed to be a step ahead, but Pettis caught him with a good punch that opened a cut on the challenger under his right eye.

Feints and leg kicks were in Horiguchi’s attack to begin Round 3, but history repeated itself, and the fight hit the canvas before striking on the feet – exchanges that went in Horiguchi’s favor.

It looked like more of the same in Round 4 – until Pettis threw a head kick on a scramble midway through the round. The head kick whiffed, but Pettis used his momentum to throw a spinning backfist that floored Horiguchi and sent the crowd into pandemonium.

Pettis’ first title defense as reigning champion was a successful one. A betting underdog on average across major online sportsbooks, Pettis extends his winning streak to five – a stretch that also includes victories over Tyson Nam, Alfred Khashakyan and Juan Archuleta.

As for Horiguchi, the loss is only his second since 2015. Since his UFC title defeat to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 186, Horiguchi has gone 14-2. As RIZIN bantamweight champion, Horiguchi crossed over into Bellator in 2019. He defeated then-Bellator bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell but later vacated the title due to injury.

In September, Bellator inked Horiguchi to a multifight deal. Both Pettis and Horiguchi will compete in the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix in 2022.

Complete Bellator 272 results:

  • Champ Sergio Pettis def. Kyoji Horiguchi via knockout (spinning backfist) – Round 4, 3:24, to defend bantamweight title

  • Jeremy Kennedy def. Emmanuel Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Josh Hill def. Jared Scoggins knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:56

  • Johnny Eblen def. Collin Huckbody TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:11

  • Alexander Shabliy def. Bobby King unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00

  • Kai Kamaka def. John de Jesus unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00

  • Levan Chokheli def. Vinicius de Jesus unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00

  • Justin Montalvo def. Jacob Bohn unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00

  • Mike Hamel def. Killys Mota split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00

  • Spike Carlyle def. Dan Moret technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 2:58

  • Kyle Crutchmer def. Oliver Enkamp unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00