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Though Bellator MMA cards often see betting favorites win lopsided fights, a few upsets occurred at Bellator 222 on Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The sportsbooks offered odds on only seven bouts, and three underdogs managed to come through with victories. They provide the material for this installment of Beating the Books.
Kyoji Horiguchi (+145)
It was not the most surprising outcome, but in what was by far the most notable upset at Bellator 222, Horiguchi captured the promotion’s bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Darrion Caldwell. The two men fought previously under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner, as Horiguchi submitted Caldwell with a third-round rear-naked choke in December. Sportsbooks nevertheless cast him as the underdog in the rematch. Although Caldwell executed a number of takedowns, Horiguchi did far more damage on the feet and on the mat. His strikes outweighed Caldwell’s efforts in the wrestling department. Horiguchi cashed as a +145 underdog in his Bellator debut.
Patrick Mix (+147)
Mix was dazzling in his Bellator debut, as he submitted Ricky Bandejas with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their bantamweight showcase. He did not need much time to execute the finish: He took Bandejas’ back just over a minute into Round 1 and cinched the choke. The victory moved Mix to an impressive 11-0, and recording a win over a quality fighter like Bandejas should earn him a nice step up in competition in his next assignment from Bellator matchmaker Rich Chou. Mix was a +147 underdog.
Adam Borics (+200)
The biggest statistical upset took place in the featherweight division, where the undefeated Borics shocked hyped prospect Aaron Pico in a second-round technical knockout. After Pico was knocked out in brutal fashion by Henry Corrales in his last appearance, most observers suggested that he start using his wrestling more and striking less. Against Borics, he used his wrestling to win the first round, and it seemed as though Pico was finally adhering to a smart game plan. He tried to use his wrestling again in Round 2, but Borics stymied his efforts. As Pico dropped for a takedown, the Hungarian countered him with a flying knee and closed out the 22-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA export with follow-up punches. Now 13-0, Borics cashed as a +200 underdog.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com, as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all-time is Dan Henderson-Mauricio Rua, and he wishes Pride Fighting Championships never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter at @MMAdamMartin.