Bellator MMA went 5-0 against RIZIN last Saturday (December 31, 2022) in a historic cross-promotion event in Saitama, Japan that was capped off with an AJ McKee win over RIZIN Lightweight Champion Roberto de Souza (full results here).
The rest of the card was also filled with action-packed fights, as Patricio Freire defeated 145-pound champion Kleber Koike, Kyoji Horiguchi knocked out Hiromosa Ougikubo, Juan Archuleta defeated Soo Chul Kim, while Gadzhi Rabadanov defeated Koji Takeda, who went to a decision.
After the event, Bellator frontman Scott Coker praised RIZIN’s talent and development over the year before turning to his team. And not just the winners who competed in the event, but his entire roster, which he believes can hang with the best, including beating some of the best guys in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
“It just shows you how much the RIZIN fighters have grown over the past five, six years, I see a big growth spurt. Keep in mind, when you talk about Bellator athletes, and I’m not just saying that because it’s a business that I run, but, over the last six or seven years, this is the best list we’ve ever had in the history of the company,” Coker said during post-event press.
“And if you look at all the weight classes, we’ve got the best 205-pounder in the world that can compete with anybody. Johnny Eblen’s best 185-pounder, I’m telling you that guy just beat Gegard Mousasi, so that’s is another guy,” he added.
“But if you go up and down in our weight class, not only do we have fighters that can beat the UFC (fighters), we have fighters that can compete, three or four fighters in each weight class that can compete against any business on the planet. So we have a very strong hunter base right now.
There’s no denying that Bellator’s roster has improved over the past few years because Coker has been aggressive when it comes to signing free agents, many of whom come from the ranks of the UFC. Sadly, we’ll never get to see who’s the best in the world since Dana White opposes cross-promotion.
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