To the surprise of many, Bellator President Scott Coker saw his fighters go unbeaten in their New Years cross-promotion event with Rizin, going 5-0 through the five-fight main card.
Rizin FF vs Bellator was hosted at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The main card opened up with lightweight talent Gadzhi Rabadanov (19-4-2) defeating Koji Takeda (15-4), before former Bellator bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta (27-4) picked up his second straight victory over Soo Chul Kim (18-7-1).
The feature fight of the evening showcased former Rizin & Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (31-5) also win his second straight fight in his trilogy bout with Hiromasa Ougikubo (25-7-2), with Bellator featherweight champion and former Bellator lightweight champion Patricio Freire (35-5) defeating Rizin featherweight champion Kleber Koike Erbst (31-6-1) in the co-main event of the evening.
Erbst was 13-1 in his last 14 going into his bout with the fellow Brazilian, the only defeat coming to no. 7 ranked UFC lightweight contender Mateusz Gamrot.
Then we saw former Bellator featherweight champion AJ McKee (20-1) defeat Rizin lightweight champion and BJJ world champion Roberto de Souza (14-2) in the main event of the evening, though the victory didn’t come without its troubles.
Scott Coker had the following to say in regards to his fighters performances at the event:
“I always said my wish was to go 5-0, and I’m happy that my guys won, but to me, it was very competitive out there,” Coker told reporters at the post-fight press conference. “That last fight, de Souza when he was fighting A.J., there were a couple of times I thought he might get tapped.
“It was very stressful to watch that last fight. It was very back and forth. I’m glad AJ did what he had to do to win. But anything can happen in a fight in MMA. It was an entertaining night of fights.”
“It just shows you how much the Rizin fighters to me have grown in the last five, six years. I see a big growth spur. Keep in mind, when you talk about the Bellator athletes, and I’m not just saying this because you know it’s the company I run, but over the last six, seven years, this is the best roster we’ve ever had in the history of the company.
“If you go all the way down the weight classes, we not just have fighters that can compete in the UFC, but we have fighters at three or four in each weight class that can compete against any company on the planet. We have a very strong, strong fighter base right now.”
Coker isn’t wrong, Bellator MMA has got some seriously skilled talents at the moment, and they’ll only get better as time continues to pass.
Wouldn’t it be great if Scott Coker could somehow convince UFC President Dana White to do a cross-promotion event?
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