Bellator MMA went undefeated (5-0) against RIZIN this past Saturday (Dec. 31, 2022) in an historic cross-promotion event in Saitama, Japan, culminating with a win for A.J. McKee over RIZIN Lightweight champion, Roberto de Souza (full results here), in the main event.
The rest of the card was also filled with action-packed bouts, as Patricio Freire defeated 145-pound champion, Kleber Koike, Kyoji Horiguchi took out Hiromosa Ougikubo, Juan Archuleta defeated Soo Chul Kim, while Gadzhi Rabadanov toppled Koji Takeda (all decisions).
After the event, Bellator front-man, Scott Coker, praised RIZIN’s talent and development over the years before turning his attention to his crew. And not just the winners who participated at the event, but his entire roster, which he says can hang with the best, including beating the top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) talent.
“It just shows you how much the RIZIN fighters have grown in the last five, six years, I see a big growth spurt. Keep in mind, when you are talking about the Bellator athletes, and I’m not just saying this because it’s a company I run, but, over the last six or seven years this is the best roster we’ve ever had in the history of the company,” Coker claimed during the post-event presser.
“And if you look at every weight class, we have the best 205-pounder in the world that can compete with anybody,” he added. “The best 185 pounds in Johnny Eblen, I’m telling you this guy just beat Gegard Mousasi, so he’s another guy.
“But, if you go all the way up and down our weight class, not only do we have fighters that can beat the UFC (fighters), we have fighters that can compete, three or four fighters at each weight class that can compete against any company on the planet,” Coker concluded. “So, we have a very strong fighter base right now.”
There’s no denying Bellator’s roster has improved over the last few years because Coker has been aggressive when it comes to signing free agents, many of who have come over from UFC’s ranks. Sadly, we will never be able to see who is the best in the world since Dana White opposes cross-promoting.
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