New Year’s Combat In The Land Of The Rising Sun.

Fight Fams, happy new year! Wishing you the best for this year. Let’s kick ass and conquer this year. This is the first journal of 2023 covering the extravagant co-promotional event between Rizin and Bellator MMA. Below is the recap and highlights of the event.


On New Year’s Eve in Japan, Bellator MMA vs. Rizin featured a spectacular fight conducted according to the Rizin rules within a ring. In the main event, Roberto Satoshi Souza and former featherweight champion AJ McKee engaged in some entertaining back-and-forth grappling that resulted in McKee’s unanimous decision victory. And let’s say Scott Cooker is grinning from ear to ear as Bellator sweep all of Rizin’s fighter by 5-0 in the event.


Patricio Pitbull, the current Rizin and Bellator featherweight champion, dominated Rizin’s Kleber Koike to earn a unanimous decision victory. Pitbull controlled all aspects of the fight’s action in the ring, denying Koike any chance to win. Other outcomes included Soo Chul Kim being defeated by former bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta by a split decision, flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi thrashing Hiromasa Ougikubo, and lightweight Gadzhi Rabadanov knocking out Koji Takeda.


The fights were terrific, and the presentation and spectacle Rizin created for this event was outstanding. He leaves as the fighters adopt their visions of the warrior. With his Aztec warrior headgear and armor, Archuleta evoked his ancestry. 


A.J. McKee finished a flawless performance by the Bellator fighters, displaying excellent grapple defense and adequate ground and pound while resolutely fending off advances from Rizin’s champion Roberto de Souza. De Souza became frustrated since he could not seriously challenge the American even though he had some favorable positions during the fight. McKee was clever with his assault on the feet and the ground.


At the conclusion, all three judges gave the fight to McKee, who improved to 2-0 in the lightweight competition after winning in Bellator at 155 pounds. However, there needed to be more activity throughout the three rounds as Patricio Pitbull defeated Rizin champion, Kleber Koike, in the co-main event. Pitbull was quickly able to shrug off Koike whenever they got into scrambles on the ground. Still, he was reluctant to engage with Koike enough to prevent lengthy grappling exchanges based on his performance. Instead, Pitbull chose to pick and choose his blows to accumulate enough damage to win the unanimous decision rather than taking excessive chances.


Afterward, Pitbull praised Koike for his toughness and said he hoped to see him again in the future, but with both belts on the line. 


A surprise announcement was made. Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquaio has agreed to do an exhibition in Rizin in 2023, following the footsteps of his former rival Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition excursion in the promotion.


“A few months ago, I was here as a guest, and today I have a very exciting announcement tonight,” Pacquiao said during an in-ring presentation. “I have agreed with Rizin to fight next year. The date will soon be announced, and also my opponent that Rizin will choose. And I’m open and excited to fight a Japanese fighter. Thank you.”


2023 should be another exciting year for the promotion as they continue to bring their best in every Rizin FF event every time they make a PPV. 


There you go, Fighters! Fight results for a few fights for this week. Remember to consistently train and purchase your training needs here at Hawkeye Fightwear!

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