Scott Coker has previously dubbed himself as the King of Collaboration, and its not hard to see why. His latest venture into co-promotion involves sending some of his biggest stars from Bellator over to compete in RIZIN’s traditional new year’s eve show.
RIZIN.40 will mark the first NYE event with Japan finally easing travel restrictions and being fully open to tourists again, and the promotion made sure to stack it with top level international talent.
Wednesday in Japan, key matchups were made official for a RIZIN vs Bellator event, involving some of Bellator’s best such as Patricio Pitbull and A.J. McKee, taking on RIZIN champions.
Former Bellator featherweight champion McKee was recently successful in his lightweight debut, and he will now headline the event against RIZIN lightweight champion Roberto Satoshi Souza.
On the co-feature, former two division Bellator champion Patricio Pitbull will take on Kleber Koike, who will have a quick turnaround after just winning the RIZIN featherweight belt this past weekend.
Kyoji Horiguchi, who has held belts in both Bellator and RIZIN, will actually represent the US-based promotion on the card. In a sign on respect, he apologized to the Japanese fans and said he feels like a “traitor” for doing so. Horiguchi will drop back down to flyweight and rematch his countryman, RIZIN BWGP champ Hiromasa Ougikubo.
Also announced for the card is two-division ROAD FC champ Soo Chul Kim, who impressed in his RIZIN return last September, facing former Bellator bantamweight champ Juan Archuleta.
There will be more matchups revealed soon, but Nobuyuki Sakakibara confirmed that each of these bouts will happen in a ring and under RIZIN rules, where soccer kicks and knees to the grounded opponent are allowed.
These fights will happen at the Saitama Super Arena, with the main event ending at night in Japan, as they kick off the new year with another major combat sports event. Bellator will have a tape delay broadcast in the US, at 8 p.m. ET on January 31st.
They also released some well made promotional material that RIZIN has always been known for: