Bellator vs. RIZIN card dangerous however a real instance of ‘martial arts approach’

Bellator vs. RIZIN card dangerous however a real instance of ‘martial arts approach’

Bellator and RIZIN have had a relationship for years, however the partnership is much less in regards to the corporations than it’s the people heading them.

Scott Coker and Nobuyuki Sakakibara have labored collectively for nearly twenty years. That’s why 12 months after 12 months, the 2 promoters meet, speak enterprise, and oftentimes, come to an settlement for some type of crossover occasion.

There’s friendship, however as Coker described, “it’s not at all times simple.” There have been “bumps and bruises,” the place enterprise pursuits don’t align. Regardless of that, the 2 events have crafted cross-promotional occasions practically yearly since Coker (previously Strikeforce) and Sakakibara (previously PRIDE) have been terminated in UFC-led mergers.

On New Yr’s Eve 2022, Bellator and RIZIN will come collectively once more – this time for maybe their most deep providing but: a five-fight major card that pins a few of the greatest Bellator stars towards the largest RIZIN stars. The occasion, also referred to as RIZIN FF 40, will happen at Saitama Tremendous Enviornment in Japan.

It’s one factor to ship a number of fighters to a pleasant competitor promotion. It’s one other to go head-to-head with poster boys the place somebody goes to lose. However within the spirit of martial arts, Coker stated he and Sakakibara have been capable of come to a uncommon settlement.

“What does the enterprise seem like perhaps trying ahead after the occasion is over?” Coker informed MMA Junkie and different reporters at a digital information convention Tuesday. “So there’s plenty of questions as a result of, as you recognize, you’re placing your fighters in hurt’s approach. You’re placing your model in hurt’s approach. That’s OK as a result of that must be the martial arts approach. Proper? The place the most effective battle the most effective. When Sakakibara owned PRIDE, that’s what occurred.

“Earlier than the UFC got here and purchased PRIDE, the most effective fighters have been preventing in PRIDE. The very best fighters have been preventing in Okay-1 at the moment. I don’t imply to go off on a tangent, however on the finish of the day, it comes right down to the most effective fighters ought to battle the most effective fighters. However there’s a enterprise part to it and does it make sense in the long term? Is there a sure degree of belief between you and the opposite promoter to make sense? Then, it makes enterprise sense.”

In keeping with Coker, Sakakibara was the one who prompt going A-list vs. A-list. For Sakakibara, the lineup Bellator returned might have even exceeded his request. Bellator featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, former featherweight champion A.J. McKee, former bantamweight champions Kyoji Horiguchi and Juan Archuleta, and rising Russian light-weight Gadzhi Rabadanov comprise Crew Bellator.

“After we first noticed Bellator’s lineup, we really felt how severe Scott was with this co-promoting occasion,” Sakakibara stated. “As he stated, he introduced the most effective. He was extraordinarily honest to our request. After we noticed the lineup, we have been very excited and likewise stunned on the similar time as a result of now we all know that Scott is totally severe. Bellator is totally severe. We have to convey our best possible. It’s an absolute process to tackle the most effective of Bellator. We have to reply by wanted our fighters to totally decide to taking the battle.”

The subsequent chapter within the Bellator-RIZIN cross-promotion could be subsequent, however it’s unlikely to be final. In keeping with Coker, agreements are in place for an additional comparable occasion in 2023 – probably in Hawaii.

Enterprise stays paramount within the battle recreation, however Bellator and RIZIN present there could also be methods to protect it whereas additionally honoring really merit-based, world-class matchups. However simply because there’s plenty of respect, doesn’t imply the aggressive hearth is absent.

“It’s exhausting to foretell an end result,” Coker stated. “However I can inform you my aim, which is to go 5-0. I’m positive Sakakibara desires to go 5-0 towards us, too. That must be his aim. I feel that’s why it’s such an excellent promotion as a result of he feels assured. I really feel assured. Let the fighters battle, and we’ll see what occurs.”

Sakakibara confirmed Coker’s hunch of a special opinion.

“If RIZIN’s fighters can beat all of Bellator’s prime athletes, that’s going to shock the world,” Sakakibara stated. “That will immediately make our fighters acknowledged all through the world. … So, Scott, we’re sorry however we’re going 5-0.”

The five-fight Bellator vs. RIZIN major card contains:

  • A.J. McKee vs. Roberto de Souza
  • Patricio Freire vs. Kleber Koike
  • Juan Archuleta vs. Kim Soo Chul
  • Kyoji Horiguchi vs Hiromasa Ougikubo
  • Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. Koji Takeda

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