TOKYO — Following last year’s historic New Year’s Eve co-promotion, BELLATOR MMA and RIZIN Fighting Federation will bring another industry-altering, star-studded event to fight fans in Japan on Sunday, July 30. Headlining the event, which departs from the head-to-head format of last year’s iteration of the crossover card, will be a BELLATOR Lightweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinal matchup between former Featherweight World Champion AJ McKee (20-1) and ex-Lightweight World Champion Patricky Pitbull (24-11).
In addition to the highly anticipated clash between McKee and the second of his Pitbull family foes, former BELLATOR and RIZIN champion Kyoji Horiguchi (31-5) will return to fight on home soil when he fights for the inaugural BELLATOR Flyweight World Championship against Makoto “Shinryu” Takahashi (16-1-1), who enters the bout on a blazing hot, ten-fight winning streak.
Plus, Japan’s own Kana Watanabe (11-2-1) puts her No. 3 flyweight ranking on the line former title challenger Veta Arteaga (7-5), who ranks No. 7.
Fans in attendance at the historic Saitama Super Arena will get to watch both portions of the event with the BELLATOR fights taking place in the cage with the iconic red and blue BELLATOR gloves, plus white gloves for the World Grand Prix competitors. The BELLATOR contests will be adhere to the Unified Rules of MMA.
The RIZIN FF fights will be taking place in their normal ring, and BELLATOR stars Juan Archuleta (28-4) and Tofiq Musayev (20-5) are scheduled to compete during the RIZIN portion of the event.
Broadcast details and ticket information will be announced at a later date.
McKee, 28, is one of the most prominent faces of BELLATOR MMA, having competed under the promotion’s banner for the entirety of his impressive professional career. McKee reached the pinnacle of the sport in 2021 when he dethroned rival Patricio Pitbull, the brother of upcoming opponent Patricky, in the finale of the $1,000,000 Featherweight World Grand Prix to become the Featherweight World Champion. After their rematch, McKee moved north to the lightweight division, where he has proven his worthiness of the promotion’s No. 5 pound-for-pound status, besting Spike Carlyle and RIZIN champion Roberto Satoshi — the latter in the main event last year’s BELLATOR vs. RIZIN card — on his path to the Grand Prix. At BELLATOR X RIZIN 2, McKee will look to advance to a semifinal matchup against Alexander Shabliy by adding another Pitbull to his lengthy list of victories.
Seeking to put an end to the McKee saga in emphatic fashion for his family is former lightweight title holder Patricky Pitbull. BELLATOR’s all-time knockout leader, Pitbull is known throughout the sport as a fearsome striker with dangerous punching power. While he came up short against the prodigious Usman Nurmagomedov in his last outing, the sting of losing his title has only strengthened the hunger Pitbull has to reclaim the championship gold he wore across his waist. Armed with the knowledge of two outings against McKee fought by brother Patricio, Pitbull hopes to dispatch of the American in front of an adoring Japanese crowd this July 30.
Despite fighting at flyweight for much of his professional career, Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi dominated the bantamweight division in both BELLATOR and RIZIN, becoming champion on the strength of his artful karate-based style and well-honed fight IQ. However, the desire to fight at 125 pounds has remained for the American Top Team-trained fighter, who has won two straight fights in dominant fashion — including a decision over Hiromasa Ougikubo on last year’s BELLATOR vs. RIZIN event. On July 30, Horiguchi will compete for the inaugural BELLATOR Flyweight World Championship as he ushers in a new division for the promotion, one sure to bolster the overall talent of the BELLATOR roster.
“Shinryu” will make his second appearance for the BELLATOR brand when he challenges Horiguchi in this championship bout. Originally from Miyagi, Japan, “Shinryu” has become a fan favorite in Japan over his impressive, young career. At just 22-years-old, He’s already secured championships from DEEP and CFFC and now hopes to add BELLATOR gold to his growing trophy room.
BELLATOR / Rizin 2: McKee vs. Pitbull Fight Card:
Lightweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinals: #5-AJ McKee (20-1) vs. #2-Patricky Pitbull (24-11)
Inaugural Flyweight World Championship: Kyoji Horiguchi (16-9) vs. Makoto “Shinryu” (16-1-1)
Women’s Flyweight Bout: #3-Kana Watanabe (11-2-1) vs. #7-Veta Arteaga (7-5)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.