Bellator x RIZIN 2 is set to go down this Saturday (July 29, 2023) which will now feature a Lightweight Grand Prix bout between Patricky Pitbull and RIZIN 155-pond champion, Robert de Souza, after A.J. McKee was forced out of the fight due to a nasty staph infection. “Mercenary” will serve as an alternate for the tournament, but Pitbull and de Souza have a chance to advance toward the $1 million title fight. In the co-main event, Kyoji Horiguchi will battle Makoto Takahashi for the inaugural Flyweight title.
Patricky Pitbull vs Roberto de Souza
While we won’t be able to get a highly-anticipated bout between McKee and Pitbull to add to the on-going beef between “Mercenary” and the Brazilian brothers (at least not this moment), we still get a pretty good headlining bout. And it’s all thanks to Bellator and RIZIN’s great partnership which will allow Roberto de Souza to fill in for a catchweight fight of 161 pounds. Interestingly enough, de Souza fell short against McKee at Bellator x RIZIN 1 in Dec. 2022, but bounced back nicely with a win over Bellator’s Spike Carlyle. For those that may not be too acquainted with de Souza, he has been dominating the Japanese scene as RIZIN’s 155-pound champion for two years. All told, he has a highly-impressive 15-2 record and is 6-1 in his last seven fights. As for Pitbull, it’s safe to say he’s seen better days inside the cage. Over his last four fights he has a record of 1-3 but he did win the 155-pound strap during that span if you can believe. His title reign was short-lived, however, because he coughed it up in his first defense against Usman Nurmagomedov. Now, he is working his way toward a rematch. The advantage Pitbull has is that he was preparing for a fight, and while de Souza will be in shape, he wasn’t planning on fighting. That may hurt him a tad here, but he’s a gamer and will make it competitive. I just don’t see him doing enough to advance.
Prediction: Pitbull via unanimous decision
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Takahashi
After getting bounced from the Bantamweight Grand Prix by eventual winner of the tournament, Patchy Mix, Horiguchi decided it was time to head back down to Flyweight. Now he will have the chance to win gold one more time as he tries to win the promotion’s inaugural 125-pound strap. Currently on a two-fight win streak, Horiguchi will be tasked to trying to slow the momentum of Makoto Takahashi. “Shinryu” is currently on a 10-fight win streak and is 16-1 overall. Many feel that Takahashi should have been signed by UFC long ago, but the 23-year old has yet to get his opportunity. At the moment, all he sees is the chance to win gold and become history by becoming Bellator’s first-ever 125-pound champion. But he will have to do it against one of the most experienced fighters on the planet at Flyweight. This is the chance, however, for “Shinryu” to take a big leap in his career and when it’s all said and done this will be changing of the guard. Horiguchi does have the experience, but Takahashi has youth and speed on his side and this will be his coming out party.
Prediction: Takahashi via unanimous decision
Magomed Magomedov vs. Danny Sabatello
Both Magomedov and Sabatello were eliminated in the 135-pound Grand Prix, and now they will face one another in a pivotal fight. Since losing to eventual Grand Prix winner, Patchy Mix, Magomedov has been sitting in silence and this will be his first fight in seven months. His lone two losses in Bellator have come against current interim champion, Mix, and former title holder, Raufeon Stots. As for Sabatello, he bounced back from his loss to Stots with a win over Marcus Breno, so he has been a bit more active. This fight is an exciting one to say the least because both men possess amazing grappling skills. If it goes to the ground the advantage goes Magomedov, while Sabatello has a slight advantage in the striking department. Once the fight gets up close and personal I expect Magomedov to control the fight on the ground, and that will give him ample opportunities to work his submissions and one of them will eventually get the job done.
Prediction: Magomedov via third round submission (rear-naked choke)
Andrey Koreshkov vs. Lorenz Larkin
Since their first encounter back in 2019 — which Larkin won via split-decision — both men have been on a tear. Koreshkov has gone on to win four straight, with only two of those going down under the Bellator banner. As for Larkin, he just kept on winning, earning four wins with one no-contest (NC) sandwiched in between. “Monsoon” is coming off a huge knockout win over Mukhamed Berkhamov. I’m glad Larkin is staying at 170 pounds because he is a lot quicker without losing much power. He will have a willing dance partner in former 170-pound champion Koreshkov, who is looking to climb the rankings in an effort to reclaim the title he once had. But Larkin is really coming into his own and I don’t see him slowing down. He has the added confidence of that win over Koreshkov, but the flip side of the coin leaves a hungry ex-champion looking for revenge.
Prediction: Larking via unanimous decision
Kana Watanabe vs. Veta Arteaga
Watanabe’s time with Bellator MMA hasn’t been the best, only racking up a 3-2 record and going 1-2 in her last three. She is coming off a tough loss at the hands of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane earlier this year, so she is eager to get back on track against Arteaga. Speaking of which, Arteaga is also just 2-3 in her last five fights with Bellator and is coming off a defeat at the hands of Sumiko Inaba. The winner of this fight earns a few spots in the rankings, but will still be a ways away from a shot at the title.
Prediction: Watanabe via unanimous decision