In what is their most ambitious collaboration yet, Bellator and RIZIN will join forces to co-promote an event on New Year’s Eve this year.
The promotions announced Monday that they will host a card on December 31st from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The event will be promoted as a “Bellator vs. RIZIN” event, with a main card that sees talents from the promotions face off. Bellator has announced that featherweight champ Patricio Pitbull, along with AJ McKee, Juan Archuleta, and Kyoji Horiguchi will appear on the card as representatives for their promotion.
The main card will air during prime-time hours for U.S. viewers on New Year’s Eve. Since Japan’s timezone is ahead of North America, this means that the event could air on a tape delay in the U.S. market.
A series of matchups for the late December card is expected to be revealed at a press conference in Japan on Wednesday.
News of the event marks the first time that RIZIN will co-promote its annual New Year’s Eve show. Since its launch in 2015, RIZIN has treated New Year’s Eve as its most important card of the year.
The late-December event tends to draw more mainstream attention than other shows by the promotion – in part due to the fact that it has previously aired on the network TV channel Fuji TV. The event has held its own during a night on Japanese TV that is historically known to be competitive. RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve show has always gone against shows like NHK’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” music program, among the many high-rating television goliaths that air that evening. Whether RIZIN’s next New Year’s Eve card will air on network TV this year is not known at the moment.
Some of the biggest fights of the year take place on RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve card, and it is always held inside the Saitama Super Arena, where the promotion has achieved some of its best attendance figures.
This upcoming event is not the first time that Bellator and RIZIN have worked together.
The promotions notably hosted a joint show on December 29th, 2019. The card featured numerous Bellator vets against RIZIN names and was headlined by heavyweights Fedor Emelianenko and Rampage Jackson.
Bellator and RIZIN also borrow talent from each other periodically. In April, Bellator talent Spike Carlyle appeared against Koji Takeda at RIZIN 35.
Fighters Kyoji Horiguchi and RENA have also previously appeared on Bellator cards while under contract as RIZIN talent.