Sergio Pettis lost hands down in his Bellator 272 main event against Kyoji Horiguchi.
Until he wasn’t.
Down three rounds to zero and on the verge of losing a fourth, Pettis (22-5) made a comeback for the ages on Friday night, hitting bantamweight champion RIZIN Horiguchi (29-3) cold with a spinning fist at 3:24 in Round 4 to defend his bantamweight title in stunning fashion at Bellator 272, held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
“I was just like, ‘Dude, I’m losing this fight. I have to do something spectacular. And he came out at the right time, ”Pettis said of his spectacular finish, which is sure to be near the top of every Knockout list of the year in 2021.
To say that Pettis was dominated by Horiguchi before the end of the fight streak would be an understatement. Horiguchi was ahead of the striking totals by a massive 73-19 margin and had controlled the action from pillar to post with eliminations every round. His accuracy on the feet was remarkable as he landed at a 56% clip and parted Pettis with leg kicks, back kicks to the midsection and precise punch combinations. Horiguchi’s ground control was no less impressive, as he easily wrestled Pettis on the ground a few times, picked up Pettis and knocked him out with punches on the mat.
But all Pettis needed was a moment to equalize – and he did it exactly in the dying minutes of round four, crushing Horiguchi with a punch back on a missed header for defend his title with the most brutal finish of his 10-year career.
“I needed to face adversity, and tonight Horiguchi gave me all of that,” said Pettis. “Man, it was hard trying to time his pace, trying to reduce his movement, but man, I just had to open up.” My coaches always tell me, ‘If you open up you’re one of the best in the world,’ and that’s what I advocate. I’m only 28 and this fight has shown me that I still have a lot of work to do.
With the victory, Pettis moved up to 4-0 under the aegis of Bellator.
He and Horiguchi are now heading to Bellator’s next bantamweight grand prix, where a possible rematch could await them in 2022.
In a co-main event battle, former UFC and PFL featherweight Jeremy Kennedy (17-3) picked up where Mads Burnell left off and outscored Emmanuel Sanchez (20-7) with a diet constant strikeouts and submission attempts to win a decision by unanimous scores 30-27.
Kennedy completed the strikeouts in all three rounds and completed seven of his eight total strikeouts. Sanchez worked hard in the first round to launch as many attacks as he could on his back, but as the fight continued Kennedy increasingly imposed his will on his struggling foe, dropping from long games of the last 10 minutes with the two hooks. locked and chasing the chokes on the back of Sanchez’s back.
In his post-fight interview, Kennedy dedicated his victory to his late friend and former teammate Kyle Reyes, who died aged 30 in August.
“He was in my corner for my last fights, Kyle ‘Boom’ Reyes,” said an emotional Kennedy. “I didn’t want to come home with a loss. I didn’t want to take any extra chance, no chance. I wanted to win every 30-27 trade. I wanted to win every second of every moment of this fight, and I didn’t care what it looked like.
Sanchez has now lost three consecutive fights after winning 12 of his first 15 appearances in the Bellator cage and competing twice for the promotion featherweight title.
Elsewhere on the night, TUF veteran Josh Hill (21-4) struck his ticket to be the top reserve fighter for Bellator’s upcoming bantamweight grand prix with a one-shot knockout of Jared Scoggins (10- 2), who lacked weight. of four pounds.
Hill controlled the action in the first round with his grappling, but it was not until 56 seconds after the second round that he landed the heat-seeking missile with a right hand which bent Scoggins on the cloth.
Hill has now won three of his four fights under the Bellator umbrella.
“Hell yeah,” Hill said after finding out he was the best reserve name for the 2022 bantamweight tournament. “I should be in there anyway, but hey, I’m your No. 1 man. . “
In the main card opener, Johnny Eblen (10-0) needed just 71 seconds to protect his undefeated record and stop Collin Huckbody (10-4) with a standing TKO.
A 29-year-old American Top Team product, Elben rocked Huckbody with an early left hand, then knocked him down before getting up and securing the referee’s stop with a blitzkrieg of punches.
Elben has now won his six Bellator appearances and finished two in the first round. Subsequently, he called up a recent challenger for the Bellator middleweight belt.
“John Salter, I signed a fight deal to fight you in Florida, and you screwed up,” Eblen said. “I don’t know if you hurt yourself or if you weighed.” But I wanna see you in that fucking cage, dog. Let’s go. Let’s get ready and let’s go. “
Check out the full Bellator 272 results below.
Main card (Showtime)
- Sergio Pettis defeated Kyoji Horiguchi via KO (turning back fist) at 3:24 of Round 4
- Jeremy Kennedy beat. Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Hill defeated Jared Scoggins via KO (punch) at: 56 in Round 2
- Johnny Eblen defeated Collin Huckbody via TKO (punches) at 1:11 of the first round
Preliminary map (MMA fight)
- Alexander Shabliy defeated Bobby King via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Kai Kamaka III defeated John of Jesus by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Levan Chholi was defeated. Vinicius of Jesus by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Justin Montalvo beat. Jacob Bohn via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mike Hamel defeated Killys Mota by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Spike Carlyle defeated Dan Moret via submission (naked back strangle) at 2:58 of Round 3
- Beat Kyle Crutchmer. Oliver Enkamp by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)