Shortly before Thursday night’s Bellator 254 card, which saw Juliana Velasquez dethrone long-serving flyweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, another addition to the promotion’s 125lb division was revealed.
Cageside Press has confirmed with Bellator officials that RIZIN standout Kana Watanable has signed an exclusive multi-fight deal with the promotion. News of the signing was originally reported by MMA Junkie.
While fellow Japanese star Kyoji Horiguchi was able to compete for both promotions in the past, that does not appear to be the case for Watanabe (9-0-1).
The 32-year old from Tokyo, Japan first caught the promotion’s eye last year at Bellator 237, which was held in Japan and featured a number of RIZIN talents. That night, the undefeated Watanabe defeated Ilara Joanne via TKO in the third round.
Watanabe boasts six finishes among her nine professional wins. In addition to RIZIN Fighting Federation, she’s also competed for DEEP.
No opponent or date has been set for Watanabe’s debut, but with the promotion finishing up their 2020 schedule on Thursday, first quarter 2021 is a safe bet. Watanabe is the second solid signing by the promotion this week, as Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has joined the promotion as well.
Watanabe joins a 125lb division that includes Velasquez, Macfarlane, Liz Carmouche, Alejandra Lara, and others.