Los Angeles (June 7, 2023) — Following last year’s historic New Year’s Eve co-promotion, BELLATOR MMA and RIZIN Fighting Federation have announced another star-studded event for fight fans in Japan on Sunday, July 30 (Saturday, July 29 in America), when BELLATOR x RIZIN: Pitbull vs. McKee lands at the world-famous Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
In addition to the three previously announced bouts, today BELLATOR is confirming two additional fights featuring top-ten ranked athletes. The first, a bantamweight tilt with former title challenger and No. 5-ranked Danny Sabatello (14-2) taking on No. 4-ranked Magomed Magomedov (19-3) of Russia. Also, a welterweight rematch between former titlist and No. 5-ranked Andrey Koreshkov (26-4) against No. 9-ranked Lorenz Larkin (25-7, 2 NC).
Equally as important, the broadcast details for the extravaganza have been finalized in the United States, with SHOWTIME set to air the event LIVE on Saturday, July 29 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. Please note, RIZIN’s portion of the event which follows BELLATOR’s will not air on SHOWTIME.
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 ex-Lightweight World Champion Patricky Pitbull (24-11) and former Featherweight World Champion AJ McKee (20-1). Also, 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.
After a thrilling, dominant victory over Brazil’s Marcos Brenoin April, Japan will play host to the next edition of the Danny Sabatello show. One of the sport’s most entertaining talents on the microphone and the cage, the next target to draw the ire of the Chicago native will be Magomed Magomedov, a fighter Sabatello has called out repeatedly. The former NCAA Division I wrestling standout looks to score a second straight victory and vault himself right back into title contention atop the ever-exciting BELLATOR bantamweight division.
Magomedov, 31, has proven to be one of the 135-pound division’s most dynamic contenders. A flashy striker keen to throw spinning attacks, the World Grand Prix semi-finalist also sports a lightning-quick submission game. Following a defeat to eventual tournament winner Patchy Mix, Magomedov will travel to the “Land of the Rising Sun” eager to shut “The Italian Gangster’s” mouth once and for all. It will be the first fight of 2023 for Magomedov, who hopes to add Sabatello’s name to an impressive list of vanquished foes that includes former World Champion Petr Yan.
At welterweight, few men have had as much success inside the BELLATOR cage as Andrey Koreshkov. The former Welterweight World Championship title challenger is an impressive 15-4 with the promotion, a run that includes eight knockout victories — including several highlight reel-worthy finishes. On July 30, Koreshkov will have a chance to lengthen his flawless run and avenge one of his few defeats, a 2019 split decision at the hands of Larkin. With both men highly ranked in the division, this consequential rematch of top-ten athletes will be sure to entertain the Japanese crowd.
Larkin, 36, is unbeaten in his last eight fights, defeating his last seven opponents in what has been a bit of a career resurgence for the Southern California-based veteran. Coming off back-to-back knockouts, including the social media-breaking standing elbow finish of Mukhamed Berkhamovat February’s BELLATOR 290 event at The Forum, Larkin is making his case for a crack at Yaroslav Amosov’s title hard to ignore. With a second win over Koreshkov in Japan, little would stand in the way of Larkin earning his second crack at the BELLATOR Welterweight World Championship more than five years after his first.