Bellator 222: Caldwell, Sonnen, Pico fall; Danis wins

It was a rough night for former wrestlers at Bellator 222, as Darrion Caldwell, Chael Sonnen and Aaron Pico all came out on the losing end of their bouts ... while Dillon Danis, who, as a high school wrestler was a New Jersey state championships qualifier, scored a first-round victory.

Caldwell loses rematch, Bellator belt

Darrion Caldwell -- the former North Carolina State wrestler who scored the stunning upset win over Iowa's Brent Metcalf to win the 149-pound crown at the 2009 NCAAs -- suffered the third loss of his pro MMA career, and his second loss to Kyoji Horiguchi, this time at Bellator 222.

Six months ago, Caldwell -- Bellator bantamweight (135-pound) champ -- faced off against Rizin FF titleholder Horiguchi in a cross-promotional clash of the titans ... with the Japanese champ scoring a third-round TKO.

This time, Horiguchi came out on top again ... but the bout went the full five rounds, with the Rizin FF champ getting a unanimous decision, 48-47, 49-46, 49-46, in the opening match of the main event portion of the Bellator 222 card.

All three "judges" in's live play-by-play reporting scored the former Wolfpack mat champ as winning the first round, but then split as to who won the second ... but came back into agreement in scoring rounds three through five as being Horiguchi's.

"On Friday, Caldwell had a chance for revenge in his own country, but Horiguchi again proved to be too good as he walked away with the Bellator title," according to Brian Mazique of "Horiguchi's quickness and strength were too much for Caldwell as the former easily handled his rival's vaunted wrestling and length."

Caldwell not only loses his Bellator title, but also drops to 13-3-0 in his career going back to 2012, while Horiguchi is now 28-2-0.

Sonnen retired by Machida

Chael Sonnen, 42, a two-time NCAA All-American for the now-defunct wrestling program at University of Oregon, said goodbye to a professional MMA career going back two decades.

Chael Sonnen (Photo/Bellator)
Fellow veteran Lyoto Machida, 41, scored a TKO at 22 seconds in the second round over Sonnen, leading the former Duck wrestler to announce his retirement immediately after their middleweight (185-pound) bout.

"A jumping knee caught Sonnen square in the face as he tried to close the distance to initiate a takedown," reported Forbes. "After taking the shot, he shelled up on the canvas as Machida pounded him with hammer fists until the referee called a halt to the bout."

Sonnen then removed his gloves after the match, saying farewell, first inside the cage ... then at a post-event press conference, where he said he was retiring because, "I've used all of my toughness up."

Sonnen wraps up his 22-year fighting career with a 30-17-1 overall record, while Machida is now 26-8.

Pico falls again in Madison Square Garden

Aaron Pico and Madison Square Garden don't seem to see eye-to-eye.

Pico -- the 22-year-old former amateur wrestling sensation who said no to a collegiate mat career -- revisited the iconic New York City arena where he launched his pro MMA two years ago with a first-round submission loss.

Friday night, Pico suffered a second straight loss in his young career, this time at the hands of Adam Borics, the 25-year-old fighter from Hungary.

"Aaron Pico finally reverted to his wrestling roots in his seventh MMA fight, and while it seemed to pay off, it only took one shot from Adam Borics to end the fight by knockout," according to

"Following a brutal knockout loss in his previous outing, Pico changed fight camps to Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., and showed some evolution in his approach against Borics," continued. "Pico avoided brawling and instead wrestled, which his opponent had no answers for ... until he did."

In the second round, Borics went airborne, landing a flying knee that ended the featherweight (145-pound) bout at 3:55 of Round 2.

Borics improves his perfect pro record to 13-0, while Pico is now 4-3 in his two-year-old career.

Danis continues his winning ways

"Two fights into his fight career and Dillon Danis is living up to the hype so far."

That's how opened its account of the wrestler-turned-Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt's welterweight (170-pound) bout at Bellator 222.

The 25-year-old Danis -- who launched his pro MMA career in April of last year -- got his second straight submission win with an armbar to put away Max Humphrey at 4:28 in the first round.

"It took Danis less than 30 seconds to drop to the ground, grab onto Humphrey's legs and then bring the fight into his world on the mat," continued. "Once Danis secured the takedown, he immediately took Humphrey's back and began hammering away from the top with a huge barrage of punches."

"Finally when Danis broke Humphrey's hold on his arm, he extended the submission by going belly down on the mat and the tap came a split second later."

Danis is now 2-0, while Humphrey falls to 3-3.


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jkwjr52 (1) about a month ago
So sad to see Pico lose again, could he have been in the Final X had he stayed in wrestling. We’ll never know.