Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN Announced for New Year’s Eve in Japan

Patricio Pitbull Bellator MMA
Patricio Pitbull, Bellator 277/279 Press Conference, Los Angeles Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Bellator MMA will once again return to Japanese shores, putting some of their best talents up against RIZIN Fighting Federation stars on New Year’s Eve.

Promotion officials announced the news on Monday, singling out four Bellator stars that will take place in the newly announced event. Those names are comprised of featherweight champ Patricio Pitbull, former 145lb champ A.J. McKee, and a pair of former bantamweight champions in Juan Archuleta and Kyoji Horiguchi.

The event is set to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Saturday, December 31, 2022.

Bellator previously participated in a cross-promotion event in 2019, which saw heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Bellator vs. RIZIN fights at the time included Lorenz Larkin vs. Keita Nakamura, and Goiti Yamauchi vs. Daron Cruickshank, among others.

This year’s Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN card will take place inside the RIZIN ring, rather than the tradition Bellator cage. The specific rule set the fights will be held under will be announced soon, per Monday’s press release. Currently, RIZIN allows soccer kicks and knees to downed opponents, something not permitted under the Unified Rules of MMA.

Which RIZIN stars will be taking part has also yet to be announced — though newly crowned featherweight champion Kleber Koike feels like an interesting match-up for Bellator’s Pitbull.