On New Year’s Eve, Patricio Pitbull, Bellator’s reigning featherweight champion and one of the faces of the promotion, will face his RIZIN counterpart, Kleber Koike.
It’s a non-title affair, given the logistics of the situation, with two promotions coming together in a way rarely seen in mixed martial arts. For Pitbull, however, the winner of this cross-promotional super-fight has a claim to being the best lightweight in the word.
“Oh yeah,” he told Cageside Press during Wednesday’s media day, ahead of the event at the Saitama Super Arena. “There’s so many things that is happening in this sport. It’s a cross-promotion, Bellator versus RIZIN. Champion against champion. I’m very excited for the opportunity [for] that.”
Pitbull would have welcomed the idea of a title unification bout between himself and Koike. But the Brazilian also recognizes the difficulties inherent in even booking such an event.
“The most difficult part was to do a cross-promotion, and they were able to establish that,” he noted, speaking via translator. Pitbull (real name Patricio Freire) added that he “would have liked them to be able to see some sort of unification of the belts, and maybe create a new title, or unify the belts somehow.”
Regardless, Patricio Pitbull is now, as he put it, living a dream come true by fighting in Japan, with its storied history in mixed martial arts. Not too long ago, he had the chance to watch brother Patricky do that same, and has been biding his time, waiting for his turn ever since.
“Yes, when he fought here, I was jealous,” Pitbull stated, asked whether Patricky fighting in Japan was a motivational experience. “I was just trying to wait for my time, and now it’s a dream come true. I’m very happy.”
Watch the full Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN media day appearance by Patricio Pitbull above. The event takes place on December 31, 2022 with the main card airing live on Showtime in the U.S. Elsewhere, the event can be viewed live on Fite.tv.