Second Bellator vs. Rizin Event Already Discussed, Could Potentially Be Held in U.S.

Both Scott Coker and Nobuyuki Sakakibara are in agreement: The Bellator vs. Rizin card slated for New Year’s Eve is not a one-off event.

While the organizations have shared fighters before, the upcoming event will mark the first time that a promotion vs. promotion format has been utilized, with five Bellator athletes squaring off against five Rizin athletes on the evening’s main card at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The first version will take place in the Rizin ring under the Japanese organization’s rule set, but the next iteration is expected to take place in a cage under Bellator rules.

“Sakakibara and I talked about a two-fight event,” Coker said during a media call. “The next one has to be in a cage and under the Bellator rules. Things can be different when the rules are different and the apparatus is different.”

The location and venue for the second cross-promotional event hasn’t been decided, but Coker has at least one suggestion for a possible location.

“Whether we do that here in the U.S. or in Japan it hasn’t been figured out,” the Bellator president said. “I think Hawaii would be something that would be a lot of fun. Maybe in the future we could do something together there. But I want to get through this first one, and then we can start talking about the future together.”

Sakakibara confirmed Coker’s statement that the plan is for another Rizin vs. Bellator event to be held next year, and the Rizin boss is embracing the possibility of taking his athletes to the U.S.

“We don’t want this to be a one-time thing,” Sakakibara said. “Obviously the top vs. top is what everybody wants to see. We’re hoping that this can be the beginning of a new movement in our industry. You can only go so far when you do the ranking system within your own promotion. We do believe that serious competition amongst the promotions is the next step of what we need in our industry.

“I think it makes absolute sense that after this event that we take our Rizin athletes and head over to the states and fight under the Bellator rules. It only makes sense.”

The Bellator vs. Rizin event, which is entitled Rizin 40, is headlined by a showdown between Rizin lightweight champ Roberto Satoshi de Souza and ex-Bellator featherweight king A.J. McKee. In the co-main event, Rizin featherweight king Kleber Koike Erbst will square off against Bellator 145-pound champ Patricio Freire. The main card airs on Showtime via tape delay in the United States on Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
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