Bellator president Scott Coker and Rizin Fighting Federation Chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara seem to have a long-term plan to have more crossover events. Rizin 14 will feature Bellator’s bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell against Rizin’s Bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi on New Year’s Eve and that could only be the first of many “Rizin versus Bellator” cards.
Coker expanded on the cross-promotional future plans between him and Sakakibara when speaking with ESPN saying, “I do think Rizin and Bellator will work multiple times together next year.” Coker also added that it would not just be a one way deal with Bellator fighters going to Japan but with fighters from Rizin coming to the states as well. Coker says we could see an entire “Rizin vs. Bellator card as early as next year.”
The matchup between the two champions on New Year’s Eve does come with the stipulation that the fighter coming into the territory of the other promotion will not risk their title when they come in as the outsider. Coker said, “If Darrion Caldwell wins the Rizin belt, at least once a year, we’ll send ‘DC’ to Japan to defend that belt, because it’s not fair to them to put their championship on the line.” If Horiguchi comes to Bellator and wins a title, he would have to come over to Bellator once a year to defend that title while not risking the one they hold in their promotional territory.
Coker has a history of working with Sakakibara and has had Bellator fighters go to Japan since Rizin launched in 2015. Fedor Emelianenko has fought for both Rizin and Bellator and has proven to be a draw in MMA anywhere he fights. With his reputation in Japan, the possibilities of matchups between the two promotion’s rosters could make for a makeover MMA needs in 2019.
Coker believes having a relationship like this with Rizin for more than one event “can be exciting for the sport.”
Would you like to see a full “Rizin vs. Bellator” card in 2019?