Bellator and RIZIN have had a relationship for yrs, Neverthemuch less the partnership is much less Regarding The corporations than It is the people heading them.
Scott Coker and Nobuyuki Sakakibara have labored collectively For almost 20 yrs. That’s why yr after yr, The two promoters meet, converse enterprise, and oftentimes, come to an settlement for some Sort of crossover event.
There’s friendship, however as Coker described, “it’s not On A daily basis straightforward.” There have been “bumps and bruises,” the place enterprise pursuits don’t align. Regardmuch less of that, The two events have crafted cross-promotional events almost yrly since Coker (previously Strikeforce) and Sakakibara (previously Satisfaction) have been time periodinated in UFC-led mergers.
On New Year’s Eve 2022, Bellator and RIZIN will come collectively as quickly as extra – this time for mightbe their most deep offering but: a 5-wrestle primary card that pins A pair of of The Most very important Bellator stars as quickly as extrast The Most very important RIZIN stars. The event, Additionally referred to as RIZIN FF 40, will Happen at Saitama Super Area in Japan.
It’s one factor to ship a few wrestleers to a nice competitor promotion. It’s ancompletely different to go head-to-head with poster boys the place somebody Goes to lose. But Inside the spirit of martial arts, Coker said he and Sakakibara have been In a place To return to a unusual settlement.
“What does the enterprise Appear to be mightbe wanting forward after the event is over?” Coker informed MMA Junkie and completely different reporters at a digital information convention Tuesday. “So there’s A lot of questions as a Outcome of, as You understand, you’re placing your wrestleers in harm’s method. You’re placing your mannequin in harm’s method. That’s Okay as a Outcome of that Ought to be the martial arts method. Proper? Where Definitely one of the biggest wrestle Definitely one of the biggest. When Sakakibara owned Satisfaction, that’s what occurred.
“Earlier than the UFC acquired here And purchased Satisfaction, Definitely one of the biggest wrestleers have been preventing in Satisfaction. The biggest wrestleers have been preventing in K-1 In the meantime. I don’t imply to go off on a tangent, however On The prime of the day, it comes Proper down to Definitely one of the biggest wrestleers should wrestle Definitely one of the biggest wrestleers. But There is a enterprise factor to it and does it make sense in The Prolonged time period? Is there a sure diploma of notion between you and The completely different promoter to make sense? Then, it makes enterprise sense.”
Based mostly on Coker, Sakakibara was the one who suggested going A-itemizing vs. A-itemizing. 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 Lightweight Gadzhi Rabadanov comprise Group Bellator.
“Once we first noticed Bellator’s lineup, we actually felt how critical Scott was with this co-promoting event,” Sakakibara said. “As he said, he launched Definitely one of the biggest. He was terribly honest to our request. Once we noticed the lineup, we have been very excited And in addition shockd On The identical time as a Outcome of now All of us know that Scott Is utterly critical. Bellator Is utterly critical. We now Want to convey our Very biggest. It’s an absolute process to Deal with Definitely one of the Greater of Bellator. We now have To answer by needed our wrestleers To utterly Decide to taking the wrestle.”
The subsequent chapter Inside the Bellator-RIZIN cross-promotion Might be subsequent, Neverthemuch less it’s unlikely to be final. Based mostly on Coker, settlements are in place For An further comparable event in 2023 – probably in Hawaii.
Industry reprimarys paramount Inside the wrestle recreation, however Bellator and RIZIN current there Might Even be strategies to protect it the placeas also honoring actually revenue-based, world-class matchups. But Merely as a Outcome of There’s A lot of respect, doesn’t imply the aggressive hearth is absent.
“It’s exhausting To foretell an Outcome,” Coker said. “But I can Inform you my objective, which is to go 5-0. I’m constructive Sakakibara Desires to go 5-0 as quickly as extrast us, too. That Ought to be his objective. I really feel that’s why it’s such An excellent promotion as a Outcome of he really feels assured. I really feel assured. Let the wrestleers wrestle, and we’ll see what occurs.”
Sakakibara confirmed Coker’s hunch of A particular opinion.
“If RIZIN’s wrestleers can beat all of Bellator’s prime athletes, that’s going to shock the world,” Sakakibara said. “Which might immediately make our wrestleers acknowledged all by way of the world. … So, Scott, we’re sorry however we’re going 5-0.”
The 5-wrestle Bellator vs. RIZIN primary card consists of:
- 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
Photographs: Rizin vs. Bellator press convention, faceoffs from Japan