Four matchups have been announced for Bellator MMA and Rizin Fighting Federation’s latest collaboration, set for New Year’s Eve in Japan.
On Monday, it was announced that the North American and Asian promotions will pair up to close out the year with a card from the Saitama Super Arena, which is set to air at 8PM ET on December 31 in the United States.
Unlike their previous team-ups, the upcoming event will feature a unique promotion vs. promotion format, with each organization represented on one side of five matchups. More details emerged at a Tokyo-held press conference on Wednesday.
During the media event, matchups were confirmed for three-time Bellator featherweight champion and former lightweight titleholder Patrício “Pitbull” Freire, #3-ranked pound-for-pound star AJ McKee, former bantamweight champ Juan Archuleta, and reigning Rizin bantamweight champion and former 135-pound Bellator king Kyoji Horiguchi.
For the confirmed head-to-head bouts, with Bellator represented on the left side of the pairing and Rizin on the right, see below:
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo (flyweight)
Patrício Pitbull vs. Kleber Koike (featherweight)
AJ McKee vs. Roberto Satoshi Souza (lightweight)
Juan Archuleta vs. Soo Chul Kim (bantamweight)
NYE Event Won’t Mark Bellator & Rizin’s First Collab
Bellator chief Scott Coker has long led a push for more cross-promotion events in mixed martial arts, and so far, that’s manifested itself into a lengthy relationship with Japan’s Rizin promotion.
While the latest collaboration will mark the biggest Bellator vs. Rizin event yet, with all five main card matchups pitting the organizations’ best against one another, the two promotions have worked together on numerous occasions.
Prior to 2019’s co-promoted Bellator 237 event in Japan, which was headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and featured Rizin fighters on the prelims, Coker teased an entire promotion vs. promotion card down the line.
While the COVID-19 pandemic quickly put a halt to promotional travel, the two organizations are set to collide at another New Year’s Eve extravaganza, featuring some of the best in the sport.
Which matchup are you most excited for at the Bellator vs. Rizin event?