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Fights Confirmed For Bellator’s New Year’s Eve Event In Japan

The featured bouts for when Bellator heads to Japan to meet Rizin live on New Year's Eve have been announced.

MMA fans are in for a treat this New Year’s Eve when Bellator MMA battles Rizin in Japan.

The special event now has several featured bouts.

All the action is scheduled for December 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main card airs live on Showtime.

In one of the featured bouts, former Bellator champion AJ McKee takes on Rizin lightweight champion Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza.

“Thank you, Japan, for welcoming me. Thanks to Scott Coker for bringing me as the A-side. Thank you to Rizin; thank you to the fans. Since I was a kid watching K-1, GLORY, it was always a childhood dream to come here and fight,” McKee said. “Being here now, in this moment, it’s phenomenal. I’m looking forward to going out there, giving the fans what they’re looking forward to: a great show, action-packed. For me, just being here in this present moment is unbelievable and surreal. I’m looking forward to going out there and putting on a great show for you, and hopefully, you enjoy it.”

“Everybody here probably knows that I’ve wanted to face a Bellator fighter, and now I’m getting this opportunity,” de Souza said. “I am extremely happy about this opportunity, and I will promise I will fight for Japan and fight for Rizin. I appreciate everybody’s support; thank you very much.”

Other announced bouts include Patricio Pitbull vs. Kleber Koike, Juan Archuleta vs. Soo Chul Kim and Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo.

“Japan is one of my favorite places to visit. I learned the fight business here for many years,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “I got to see all the great fights in PRIDE, K-1. I had a chance to work with Sakakibara back then; we were sharing fighters as early as 2006. When we started working together, we did some fighter exchange, but around 2018, I’ll never forget this interview I did with ESPN. They said: ‘What do you think about Rizin?’ I said look, ‘Give them a couple of years, and they’re going to have some great fighters there.’

BELLATOR MMA VS. RIZIN MAIN CARD

Saturday, Dec. 31 – 8 p.m. ET /PT on SHOWTIME
Saitama Super Arena – Saitama, Japan

*Featherweight Main Event: Patricio Pitbull (34-5) vs. Kleber Koike (30-5-1)

*Lightweight Co-Main Event: AJ McKee (19-1) vs. Roberto de Souza (14-1)

*Bantamweight Bout: Juan Archuleta (26-4) vs. Soo Chul Kim (18-6-1)

*Flyweight Bout: Kyoji Horiguchi (30-5) vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo (25-6-2)

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