2022 has been one hell of a year in the fight game, many promotions have given the fans a night of pure unadulterated organised violence they will not soon forget. But it’s not over yet, as two highly regarded platforms put their best against each other for the absolutely explosive Bellator vs RIZIN card to add to the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
The fiercest Warriors from each respective promotion have been matched in this violent extravaganza, that will no doubt be one for the history books.
MMA UK were cordially invited to the virtual press conference held in Japan. The buzz around the event was clear to see, as so many representatives from different MMA outlets were in attendance.
But we managed to grab a couple of questions with 2 of the Bellator Fighters in Kyoji Horiguchi and A.J ‘Mercenary’ McKee. Both were extremely excited to represent Scott Coker and themselves in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Aaron East MMA UK News: Now just days away from such a monument occasion, your inclusion will be on for the history Books. How does it feel to be part of such a historic night in MMA History?
Kyoji Horiguchi: I’m really looking forward to being part of such an event.
Kyoji kept his responses short with the media in attendance, which showed his utter focus on the violent festivities in Saitama, Japan.
A.J McKee will once again go up against Championship opposition, when he takes on RIZIN’s Lightweight champion Roberto de Souza. Proving that he really wants to test himself against the best the fight game has to offer.
Aaron East MMA UK News: How does it feel to be testing your skill-set against Championship opposition once again this year?
A.J McKee: For me, I’ve always felt like I’m the money fight, you know what I mean. I bring good fights, entertaining fights, with that being said, it’s an honour. I’ve always spoke about cross promotions and champions vs champions, to put the best against the best. For me, this is an opportunity to go out and show the world once again that I’m the best in the world. And I appreciate RIZIN for the opportunity, I was hoping I’d get a Katana Sword or something for the win hahaha. The culture here man, the Samurai’s, the Ninjas and warriors, they respect combat abit different than we do in the states. Obviously we love Mixed Martial Arts, it’s probably one of the fastest growing sports in the world, but here they respect the art of it a tad more. It’s more embedded into their culture, for me to come here and fight their champion is a dream come true. I get to use soccer kicks and knees to the head, it’s a part of my arsenal I’ve always dreamed of using, now it’s here full circle.
Aaron East MMA UK News: the best of the best has been assembled for the collision in Japan to end 2022. Are there any match-ups in particular that you’re looking forward to being a part of in the 2023 MMA calendar year?
A.J McKee: There’s nothing in talks, but for me personally, 1 on 1 with Patricio it’s our legacy. It’s not about money, it’s not about anything else, it’s something that needs to be settled. In 2023 I think it’s a fight that’s in the making, we got a newly crowned champion at 155 lbs in Usman Nurmagomedov and that’s my stomping grownd now. If Patricio doesn’t step up then obviously that’s the fight that I’m looking forward to, because he’s the man with the gold around his waist.
Aaron East MMA UK News: Thank you very much, and all the best for the 31st.
A.J McKee: Thank you.
These 2 prolific warriors are just a sample of what’s to come in this piece of sports history in Japan on Saturday, as we say goodbye to what’s been one of the biggest years in combat history.
Make sure you don’t miss this historic night, when Bellator face-off against RIZIN to close the book on 2022 with a bang, and set the bar high for a violent 2023.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30
BELLATOR MMA VS RIZIN OFFICIAL WEIGH-IN
The Westin Tokyo – 1 Chome-4-1 Mita, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-8580, Japan
10 a.m – 11 a.m. JST – Pre-check weigh-ins
11 a.m – 2 p.m. JST – Official weigh-in window
CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
BELLATOR MMA VS RIZIN CEREMONIAL WEIGH-IN
Roppongi Hills Arena – 6 Chome-9-1 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan
4 p.m JST – Ceremonial Weigh-ins will be streamed via BELLATOR MMA YouTube & the BELLATOR MMA channel on Pluto TV
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31
BELLATOR MMA VS RIZIN FIGHT NIGHT
Saitama Super Arena – 8 Shintoshin, Chuo Ward, Saitama, 330-9111, Japan
12 p.m JST – Doors open at Saitama Super Arena
2 p.m JST – Preliminary card begins
8 p.m ET/PT – BELLATOR VS RIZIN main card airs around the world.
How to watch Bellator vs RIZIN across the world
card subject to change.