Bellator MMA and Rizin Fighting Federation are teaming up to put on quite a couple of events at the end of the year.
The promotions announced early Thursday via press releases following a press conference that several key bouts would be added to the events scheduled for Dec. 29 and Dec. 31. The first, on Dec. 29, will be held by Bellator and will consist of several matchups pitting Bellator fighters against their Rizin counterparts, to be contested in a cage. Additionally, the Bellator card will feature multiple postliminary fights contested under Rizin rules, while still occurring inside a cage. The Dec. 31 event will be under the Rizin banner, with the bouts taking place in a ring, but will also contain a couple tilts of one promotion against the other.
On Bellator Japan, a trio of scraps have been added to the event, with all three featuring one Bellator representative against a Rizin-based foe. The first takes place at welterweight, between former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce contender Lorenz Larkin and relative Rizin newcomer and fellow UFC vet Keita Nakamura. Larkin has won his last three, and most recently captured a narrow split verdict over former welterweight king Andrey Koreshkov. Nakamura bounced back from an uneven UFC tenure where he alternated wins and losses across eight bouts with a corner stoppage technical knockout over Marcos Yoshio Souza in October.
Additionally, Bellator's Ilara Joanne will try to keep her momentum going when she squares off against unbeaten Rizin prodigy Kana Watanabe at flyweight. Joanne put her name on the map when she hit Bec Rawlings with a kneebar in October and then revealed a list of opponents she wanted to face next in a reference to Arya Stark from "Game of Thrones." Watanabe has won all three of her bouts with Rizin, and last tapped Hee Eun Kang with a quick rear-naked choke at a Deep event in October. Lastly, Bellator submission specialist Goiti Yamauchi takes on flashy kickboxer and proudly mustachioed Daron Cruickshank, the latter of Rizin fame, at lightweight.
The last two Bellator vs. Rizin bouts will be held at Rizin 20, where the undefeated Angola, New York, native Patrick Mix from Bellator locks horns with Rizin's Yuki Motoya in the bantamweight division. Finally, at featherweight, John "Macapa" Teixeira of Bellator collides with Rizin standout Mikuru Asakura in the fifth cross-organizational matchup.
Bellator Japan Lineup:Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton Jackson
Michael Chandler vs. Benson Henderson
Bellator Lorenz Larkin vs. Rizin Keita Nakamura
Bellator Ilara Joanne vs. Rizin Kana Watanabe
Bellator Goiti Yamauchi vs. Rizin Daron Cruickshank
Bellator Japan Postliminary Lineup:Andy Nguyen vs. Ai Shimizu
Ryuichiro Sumimura vs. Jon Tuck
Haruo Ochi vs. Jarred Brooks
Yusuke Yachi vs. Hiroto Uesako
Rizin 20 Lineup:Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Seo Hee Ham
Kai Asakura vs. TBA
Johnny Case vs. Tofiq Musayev
Patricky Freire vs. Luiz Gustavo Felix dos Santos
Bellator Patrick Mix vs. Rizin Yuki Motoya
Bellator John Teixeira vs. Rizin Mikuru Asakura