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Sergio Pettis’ Spectacular Spinning Backfist Freezes Kyoji Horiguchi in Bellator 272 Main Event





The situation looked bleak for Sergio Pettis. Then lightning struck.

The Roufusport mainstay retained the undisputed Bellator MMA bantamweight championship, as he knocked out Kyoji Horiguchi with a spinning backfist in the fourth round of their Bellator 272 headliner on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Pettis (22-5, 4-0 Bellator) brought it to a shocking conclusion 3:24 into Round 4.

Horiguchi (29-4, 1-1 Bellator) had command of all of his pitches and kept the Milwaukee native off-balance with darting lateral movements. The Japanese star battered Pettis’ lead leg with kicks, punctuated his combinations with powerful overhand rights, mixed in a handful of spinning back kicks to the body and incorporated strategic takedowns in the first, second and third rounds. None of it mattered. A little more than midway through Round 4, Pettis pushed the American Top Team rep toward the fence and uncorked a head kick at close range. Horiguchi ducked out of danger, only to be blindsided by the spinning backfist that followed. The impact turned out his lights and sent him crashing to the canvas, the unwitting victim in one of the most spectacular finishes of 2021.

Pettis, 28, will ride a five-fight winning streak into his next title defense.

Meanwhile, Xtreme Couture’s Jeremy Kennedy leaned on repeated takedowns and stifling positional control, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Emmanuel Sanchez in the three-round featherweight co-main event. Kennedy (17-3, 2-1 Bellator) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges, bouncing back from an April 9 decision defeat to Adam Borics.

Sanchez (20-7, 12-6 Bellator) had few answers, though he managed to open a cut under the Canadian’s right eye with an elbow strike from the bottom. Kennedy otherwise dictated the terms of their engagement, assumed top position in all three rounds and kept himself stapled to the Duke Roufus protégé. He progressed to Sanchez’s back in Round 2 and again in Round 3, making passes at arm-triangles and rear-naked chokes while bleeding valuable time off the clock.

The 31-year-old Sanchez has suddenly lost three fights in a row.

Elsewhere, former Aggression MMA champion Josh Hill rebounded from a May 7 decision defeat to Raufeon Stots and punched out Jared Scoggins in the second round of their bantamweight feature. Scoggins (10-2, 0-1 Bellator)—who missed weight for the match by four pounds—hit the deck 56 seconds into Round 2, suffering his first setback since Feb. 17, 2017.

The 35-year-old Hill (21-4, 3-1 Bellator) answered jabs and occasional power punches from his adversary with a steady diet of leg kicks and a late takedown in the first round. Early in the second, he walked Scoggins into a devastating overhand right that dropped the South Carolinian in an unconscious heap. No follow-up shots were required.

Hill has rattled off five victories across his past six appearances.

Finally, undefeated American Top Team prospect Johnny Eblen kept his perfect professional record intact and did so in rousing fashion, as he put away former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Collin Huckbody with punches in the first round of their middleweight showcase. Huckbody (10-4, 0-1 Bellator) succumbed to blows 71 seconds into Round 1.

Eblen (10-0, 6-0 Bellator) wasted neither time nor effort. He clipped Huckbody with a powerful left hook at close range, swarmed with follow-up punches and drove his counterpart to the floor. From there, Eblen unleashed his ground-and-pound, allowed the Dana White’s Contender Series alum to stand in a defensive shell and continued to cut loose with punches until referee Bryan Miner saw fit to intervene.

The 29-year-old Eblen now has six first-round finishes to his credit.

In other action, Alexandr Shabliy (21-3, 2-0 Bellator) cruised to a three-round unanimous verdict over Bobby King (10-4, 1-1 Bellator) in the featured lightweight prelim; Kai Kamaka III (9-4-1, 3-0 Bellator) pocketed a unanimous decision—29-28, 29-28, 29-28—over John de Jesus (14-10, 2-2 Bellator) in a three-round featherweight scrap; Levan Chokheli (10-1, 1-1 Bellator) captured a unanimous decision against Vinicius de Jesus (9-5, 3-3 Bellator) in a three-round welterweight encounter, sweeping the cards with 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 scores; Justin Montalvo (4-0, 1-0 Bellator) laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Jacob Bohn (10-8, 0-1 Bellator) in a three-round lightweight battle, earning 29-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the cageside judges; Mike Hamel (9-5, 2-2 Bellator) escaped with a split decision—28-29, 29-28, 30-27—over Killys Mota (12-3, 1-2 Bellator) in a three-round lightweight affair; Spike Carlyle (13-3, 1-0 Bellator) put Dan Moret (15-7, 1-1 Bellator) to sleep with a rear-naked choke 2:58 into the third round of their catchweight clash at 160 pounds; and Kyle Crutchmer (8-1, 4-1 Bellator) took a unanimous decision from Oliver Enkamp (10-3, 3-1 Bellator) in a three-round welterweight tilt, drawing 30-27 scores across the board.
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