Rizin 40: Bellator complete the clean sweep against Rizin

Giancarlo Aulino
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Saturday, December 31, 2022

Bellator completed the clean sweep against Rizin at their highly anticipated cross-promotional MMA event at the Saitama Super Arena. Bellator won all 5 fights, which featured top fighters from both promotions, including current and former champions. 

The main event saw former Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee defeat Rizin lightweight champion Roberto 'Satoshi' Souza via unanimous decision. He remains unbeaten at 155lbs and should be one of the fighters included in the upcoming Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix in 2023. 

McKee even landed a soccer kick on Souza, which he was excited for after finding out that the fights would be contested under Rizin rules. Following the bout, the former Bellator featherweight champion described what it was like competing under Rizin rules, saying: 

"Man, that was so fun. I don't know if something I could do every fight but it's something I enjoyed a lot. Rizin enjoyed the show so hopefully they bring me back for a title." 


The co-main event featured a champion vs. champion bout between Bellator featherweight champion Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire and Rizin featherweight champion Kleber Koike. 'Pitbull' earned a unanimous decision win against the dangerous submission specialist, to add a win over another champion on his impressive resume. 

During his post-fight interview, 'Pitbull' mentioned that competing in Japan for this special cross-promotional event was a dream come true, saying:

"Rizin is the successor to PRIDE, so I'm very happy to be here. Of course, I was very emotional. This is one of my dreams come true, so I was very happy to realize my dream." 


Both promotion's Presidents have indicated that they hope to have more cross-promotion events in the future and that the next one will likely take place in the cage under Bellator rules.

It will be interesting to see whether Bellator vs. Rizin is a New Years Eve tradition going forward or if the promotions host a cross-promotion event twice a year. 


Bellator vs. Rizin results:

A.J. McKee (Bellator) def. Rizin lightweight champion Roberto 'Satoshi' Souza (Rizin) via unaimous decision

Bellator featherweight champion Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire def. Rizin featherweight champion Kleber Koike via unanimous decision 

Kyoji Horiguchi (Bellator) def. Hiromasa Ougikubo (Rizin) via unanimous decision

Juan Archuleta (Bellator) defeated Soo Chul Kim (Rizin) via split decision

Gadzhi Rabadanov (Bellator) def. Koji Takeda (Rizin) via unanimous decision


Photo credit: RIZIN FF