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