TOKYO (May 27, 2023) – BELLATOR MMA President Scott Coker, RIZIN FF President Nobuyuki Sakakibara along with athletes including AJ McKee (20-1) and Patricky Pitbull (24-11) spoke with assembled media today ahead of another historic star-studded event which is set to go down in Japan on Sunday July 30th, at the world-famous Saitama Super Arena in Saitama.
Headlining the historic 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 and ex-Lightweight World Champion Patricky Pitbull.
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.
Broadcast details and ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Here is what Scott Coker and Nobuyuki Sakakibara as well as the assembled athletes at the press conference had to say:
On working with RIZIN and being back in Japan: “This is unbelievable, last time I saw Nobuyuki Kakakibara we were in Paris together for a fight two weeks ago, we had a press conference in the Eiffel Tower that I thought was unbelievable until I saw the crowd here today, this is truly amazing. When I think of Mixed Martial Arts I always think about Japan. This really was the mecca, when I was growing up as a promoter all the eyes were on Japan, all the best fighters in the world fought here.
“One day I said I am going to go there and we’re going to do some work together, when I get into the Mixed Martial Arts business, so when Sakakibara came back I was really excited because we can do things like we’re going to do on July 30th, something that has never been done before where two organisations are getting together to create one show for the fans that really will be spectacular. I really feel this should be the future of Mixed Martial Arts fighting.
“On July 30th you’ll see two leagues and I want to thank Nobuyuki Sakakibara for allowing us to come here and be part of this. He really doesn’t have to, he’s been a great leader, he has been a great Mixed Martial Arts, I would arguably say he’ll go down as one of the greatest fight promoters of all time. He’s been a great mentor for me, even though he doesn’t know it, so any chance I get to come here to work with him I always say yes. We have been planning this event for the last four months and we’re truly going to deliver something spectacular at Saitama Super Arena on July 30th. I look forward to putting a great fight on with my fighters and it’s going to be a fun event to watch.”
Why he brought McKee vs Pitbull fight to Japan: “We could have brought this anywhere in the world, we thought about doing this in Los Angeles or doing it in New York but as Sake and I continued our dialogue we thought this was the perfect fight for Japan. AJ was calling me every week asking ‘when am I fighting’ but we had to wait a month and it worked out for the better. I think the fans in Japan are going to get a great show on July 30th.”
“Last year we were able to do a promotion vs promotion event on New Year’s Eve with the help of Scott Coker who understands and values the Japanese Mixed Martial Arts scene very much. In a world where people talk trash amongst each other, we were able to cooperate and have a productive event. We have been in this business for 30 years now and we’ve been able to build.
“We have something different and special for you all this year. With Bellator and Scott Coker’s help, with Scott Coker’s love and passion for this community, we will be able to combine two events into one on July 30th. The fans will be able to enjoy Bellator and Rizn with the cage and ring set up on the same day, I believe this has never been done before and this will definitely be a treat for the fans.
“We will be bringing in the flying cage, which Bellator owns and we will be showing an illusion the day of the event on July 30th,the summer fiesta of combat sports. It will guarantee you an extravaganza, something very unique, so from this point on myself and all the staff will be on hands on deck to finalise and promote this event to be the biggest summer event in Japan. Additionally, we would like to announce that this event will be powered by UNEXT, this event will only be available on UNEXT, so make sure you subscribe to UNEXT to watch the event.”
On fighting in Japan: “Hello Japan. I want to say thanks for this opportunity to Mr Coker, Bellator and RIZIN. I’m excited to be back here, it’s an honour to come here and put on a great show against Patricky. This is the second time I will fight here in six months and I’m excited to bring the show here for the fans. It’s amazing man! I’m excited to be here. I love the fans; you really appreciate the sport on a different level. I’ve come full circle and I’m fighting here again after six months, expect fireworks on July 30th.”
On fighting Patricky Pitbull: “I think this couldn’t have been a better match up to start off the tournament, the World Grand Prix. The rivalry between his brother and I and now leading up to our fight, it’s just awesome. Up until this point there hasn’t really been a rivalry in my career. Me and my teammates are very cordial and respectful to each other but when it comes down to getting in that cage and handling business, we will both know what we are going to do to each other.”
On fighting in Japan: “I’m very happy to be able to fight here after 4 years and I’m very excited to be here and to fight against AJ McKee. He is a very dangerous opponent. I want to thank you for fighting here. It will be awesome fun and I enjoy this country so much.”
On fighting AJ McKee: “It’s going to be a great fight. It’s a big challenge for me. I will make my dream come true after a year. Now this feels real.”
On fighting in Japan: “It’s been a while since I fought in Japan, so I’m very excited to fight in Japan again. I want to put on a spectacular fight, I want all the fight fans to remember my name and face.”
On fighting in Japan: “Mr. Scott Coker, I would like to thank you very much. (On Shinryu), he is a good opponent and a good fighter, but I will go to Japan and beat him up.”
On fighting Horiguchi: “Hi I’m Makoto “Shinryu. I’m the best flyweight in the world. Horiguchi’s time is over. I will beat him up and I will gather my third promotional championship belt.”