The 2022 MMA calendar will come to a close this Saturday with a collaborative New Year’s Eve card from RIZIN and Bellator. The 15-fight MMA event from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan is scheduled to include numerous champions in the sport, along with other notable names.
A five-fight “Bellator vs. RIZIN” card is expected to close out the evening. The main event of the card is set to be a match between flashy Bellator talent AJ McKee Jr. and RIZIN grappling ace Roberto Satoshi Souza.
Follow along throughout the evening for updates on the event.
Click here to read a preview of the card.
Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (FITE / RIZIN Live)
Bout 1: Yushi def. Tatsuya Nakazawa via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 2: Sho Patrick Usami def. BeyNoah via TKO, Strikes (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 3: Chihiro Suzuki def. Yoshiki Nakahara via TKO, Strikes (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Johnny Case def. Nobumitsu Tyson via TKO, Strikes (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 5: Yuki Motoya def. Rogerio Bontorin via TKO, Strikes (RD 2) (MMA Bout)
Bout 6: Ren Hiramoto def. Genji Umeno via TKO, Strikes (RD 2) (Special Rules Bout)
Bout 7: John Dodson def. Hideo Tokoro via TKO, Strikes (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 8: Junior Tafa def. Tsuyoshi Sudario via TKO, Strikes (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 9: Naoki Inoue def. Kenta Takizawa via Submission, Straight Armbar (RD 2) (MMA Bout)
Bout 10: Seika Izawa def. Park Si-woo via Decision, Split (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Finals)
RIZIN x Bellator (Showtime)
Bout 11: Gadzhi Rabadanov def. Koji Takeda via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 12: Juan Archuleta def. Kim Soo-chul via Decision, Split (MMA Bout)
Bout 13: Kyoji Horiguchi def. Hiromasa Ougikubo via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 14: Patricio Pitbull def. Kleber Koike via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 15: AJ McKee Jr. def. Roberto Satoshi Souza via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 15: AJ McKee Jr. (19-1) vs. Roberto Satoshi Souza (14-1) (156 lbs) (MMA Bout)
McKee Jr. Goes The Distance Against Souza For Second Pro Win At Lightweight
AJ McKee Jr. picked up his second lightweight victory in the main event on Saturday night, going the distance against grappling ace Roberto Satoshi Souza to get the nod on all three judge’s scorecards.
The lightweight bout was a close one that had back-and-forth moments throughout.
Souza spent most of the opening round on his back on the canvas. This was due to him shooting for a takedown early in the round, which was stuffed by McKee Jr.
Souza looked for submissions while on his back in the first round but wasn’t able to find anything. McKee Jr. was able to land strikes while remaining in full guard.
The first half of the second round was mostly on the feet, where McKee Jr. had the better striking. Souza got the fight to the ground later in the frame, getting on the back of McKee Jr.
McKee Jr. escaped this position in the final minute of the round, allowing him to unload with strikes against a still-grounded Souza.
Souza closed the fight out with a solid third round, hunting for submissions during this time. McKee Jr. was certainly threatened by attempts at points, but his skillful defending abilities stopped him from ever being finished during the round.
Saturday was only McKee Jr.’s second appearance at lightweight in his pro career. He moved up to the weight class earlier this year after losing his featherweight title to Patricio Pitbull in April.
McKee Jr. won his lightweight debut in October with a win over Spike Carlyle.
The fight on Sunday was Souza’s first loss since capturing the RIZIN Lightweight Championship in 2021. He had a five-fight winning streak heading into this card, with all victories coming via finish.
Bout 14: Patricio Pitbull (34-5) vs. Kleber Koike (31-5-1) (145 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Pitbull Defeats Koike In Champion vs. Champion Matchup
Current Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Pitbull stopped the momentum of RIZIN titleholder Kleber Koike this weekend, getting a scorecard nod over him after a contest that mostly consisted of stand-up exchanges.
Pitbull and Koike participated in a slow-paced, back-and-forth battle on the feet. Judges saw Pitbull as the fighter who did more damage in these exchanges, giving him a unanimous decision win in the end.
Pitbull regained his 145-pound Bellator belt earlier this year, avenging a loss to AJ McKee Jr. He defended his belt once in October, going five rounds against Adam Borics for a decision win.
Koike became the RIZIN Featherweight Champion in his previous fight, submitting Juntaro Ushiku at RIZIN 39. He had a six-bout winning streak in RIZIN heading into this weekend’s card.
Bout 13: Kyoji Horiguchi (30-5) vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo (25-6-2) (125 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Horiguchi Prevails In Third Appearance Against Ougikubo
Kyoji Horiguchi won in his third meeting against Hiromasa Ougikubo, putting together a dominant performance to walk away with a unanimous decision outcome.
Horiguchi had strong moments in all three rounds, leaving little doubt before the decision was read.
Horiguchi had a strong series of strikes to end the first round, potentially nearing a finish before he ran out of time. After dropping Ougikubo with a leg kick, Horiguchi seated him once more with a right cross. Horiguchi attempted to land ground and pound in the final seconds of the round, but struggled as Ougikubo was tangled in the ropes of the ring.
Horiguchi was able to take the back of Ougikubo during the second round. After opening the third round with a left hook knockdown, Horiguchi then also spent a large portion of that frame in control on the ground as well.
Horiguchi has faced Ougikubo twice in the past, defeating him in 2018 and 2013. Unlike those fights, this match was held down at the flyweight limit instead of bantamweight.
Horiguchi snapped a two-fight skid in his last appearance, submitting Kintaro at RIZIN 38. Despite having a lengthy history with RIZIN, Horiguchi is currently a Bellator fighter and was representing them on this card.
Ougikubo had a strong 2021, winning the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix that year. But his momentum was stopped earlier this year with a loss to Kim Soo-chul.
Bout 12: Juan Archuleta (26-4) vs. Kim Soo-chul (18-6-1) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Archuleta Takes Split Decision Nod Over Kim
Juan Archuleta pulled off a close decision against Kim Soo-chul on Saturday night, prevailing in a split decision result.
Archuleta had a wrestling-heavy game plan against Kim, keeping him up against the ropes and corner pads of the ring. Archuleta would often advance into a full guard position, where he would periodically connect with punches.
Kim searched for submissions at points during the fight. He attempted a guillotine choke in the opening round, but eventually lost the position and found himself on his back afterward as well.
Kim also looked for a ninja choke in the final minute of the fight, seemingly fully locking in the choke at one point.
Kim was able to hurt Archuleta with his striking during some of the moments that the fight was on his feet. Archuleta was seemingly visibly hurt by some leg kicks and consumed shots to the head as well.
Archuleta’s year is now concluding after two consecutive wins. His previous victory was in October when he beat Enrique Barzola on scorecards.
Kim, the current Road FC Featherweight Champion, was representing RIZIN in this match. He was coming off a big win in his return to the promotion, defeating Hiromasa Ougikubo in September.
Bout 11: Koji Takeda (15-3) vs. Gadzhi Rabadanov (18-4-2) (156 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Rabadanov Takes Decision Over Tough Takeda
Gadzhi Rabadanov had a hard-fought performance to give Bellator their first win of the night, overcoming a tough Koji Takeda to earn a unanimous decision nod.
A big moment from Rabadanov early plus a close competition later on was able to earn him the win.
Rabadanov came close to finishing the bout early, dropping Takeda with a right cross. Takeda seemed significantly hurt by this shot, returning to his feet afterward but then falling back to the canvas in a woozy state.
Takeda was able to find success in the fight once he survived the early knockdown. Rabadanov pressed forward with takedown attempts, although Takeda was able to reverse positions and stop attempts. The striking exchanges also became much more competitive, with both fighters connecting with punches on the feet.
Rabadanov is now undefeated through four appearances in Bellator. He appeared earlier this year against Bobby King and Jay Jay Wilson, prevailing on scorecards in both instances.
Takeda was coming off two consecutive wins from earlier this year, defeating Johnny Case and Zach Zane.
Bout 10: Seika Izawa (8-0) vs. Park Si-woo (9-4) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Finals)
Izawa Takes Split Decision Over Park To Win Super Atomweight Grand Prix
Seika Izawa snuck by Park Si-woo in a close split decision result to win the RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix on Saturday night.
The win for Izawa came after an incredibly close, slow-paced battle through three rounds.
Izawa was the more active fighter in the opening frame. She mounted the back of Park during this round, landing punches to her head periodically during this time.
Park had a much better second round, scoring with knees while searching for an anaconda choke in a clinch position. A large portion of this round took place in clinch positions in a corner of the ring.
The third round saw the super atomweights briefly trade punches on the feet. Izawa spent a portion of the round searching for a guillotine choke while in a mount position. After escaping this choke, Park was able to throw a series of clean punches to a seemingly dazed and tired Izawa on the ground. Izawa was able to cover up and eventually stop these shots from landing.
Izawa’s 2022 is coming to an end after attaining four consecutive wins. She claimed the promotion’s 108-pound belt in April, defeating Ayaka Hamasaki for the second time. She then advanced through the first two rounds of the tournament, submitting Laura Fontoura and Anastasiya Svetkivska.
This weekend was the second time that Park and Izawa have met. They previously fought last year on a DEEP Impact card, where Izawa won on scorecards. However, the fight came alongside some drama due to an illegal strike that was landed during it.
Park scored two big wins earlier in the tournament, beating Kanna Asakura and Ayaka Hamasaki within a three-month stretch.
Bout 9: Naoki Inoue (15-3) vs. Kenta Takizawa (13-8) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Inoue Submits Takizawa In Return
Naoki Inoue scored a submission win in his return, catching Kenta Takizawa in the second round with a straight armbar.
Inoue finished Takizawa with the submission while in top mount during the second frame. This submission closed out a stellar showing on the ground from Inoue, taking Takizawa to the ground and unloading with ground and pound shots in both the first and second rounds.
Both fighters were appearing for the first time since competing in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix last year. They both made it to the semi-finals of the bracket, which took place on New Year’s Eve 2021.
Inoue was eliminated by Hiromasa Ougikubo, who went on to win the finals of the bracket later that night. Takizawa, an underdog in the tournament, dropped a decision to Kai Asakura.
Bout 8: Tsuyoshi Sudario (6-1) vs. Junior Tafa (3-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Undefeated Tafa Scores Three Knockdowns Over Sudario
Undefeated heavyweight Junior Tafa scored a trio of knockdowns against RIZIN vet Tsuyoshi Sudario, catching him with punches in the first round for a quick stoppage.
Tafa’s punches connected with a high frequency on Sudario, dropping him with hooks and overhand shots. After an overwhelmed Sudario was floored for the third consecutive time in the fight, the referee stepped in and stopped the bout.
Tafa was entering this bout with experience in boxing, kickboxing and MMA. His MMA record now includes four wins, including a victory at Brave CF 66 last month.
The loss for Sudario put a halt to a strong year for him. He picked up a pair of finish victories in recent months, including a win against veteran Hideki Sekine.
Bout 7: Hideo Tokoro (35-31-2) vs. John Dodson (22-13) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
UFC Vet Dodson Stops Tokoro Early
Two-time UFC flyweight title challenger John Dodson picked up a quick win in his RIZIN debut, stopping fellow experienced talent Hideo Tokoro in the first round with punches.
Dodson charged toward Tokoro with a series of punches to the head and body in the opening round. A left hook in particular brought Tokoro to the ground. Dodson then landed a few more punches from a ground and pound position before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Dodson has won two of his three appearances in MMA since departing the UFC roster in 2020. He also competed once in bare-knuckle boxing, defeating fellow UFC alum Ryan Benoit in August.
Dodson, who recently signed a multi-fight deal with RIZIN, said afterward that he hopes to earn a belt in the promotion soon.
Tokoro, an MMA vet of more than two decades, was making his second appearance of the year. He previously appeared in August, when he lost via decision to prospect Makoto Shinryu.
Bout 6: Ren Hiramoto vs. Genji Umeno (Special Rules Bout)
Hiramoto Earns Stoppage Against Surprise Opponent
Ren Hiramoto prevailed against surprise opponent Genji Umeno, stopping him in the second round of their stand-up striking battle with a left hook.
Leading up to Saturday, Hiramoto’s opponent was not revealed to the public. It was announced just moments before the fight that Umeno, a fellow fighter from a kickboxing background, would be Hiramoto’s opponent.
The rules of the bout saw Hiramoto and Umeno in a three-round exhibition under boxing rules.
Hiramoto floored Umeno with a left hook in the final moments of the second round. While the round ran out of time after Umeno’s knockdown, the call was made for the fight to not continue into the third frame.
After the fight, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced that former RIZIN Featherweight Champion Yutaka Saito will be Hiramoto’s next opponent in MMA.
It was also revealed that Mikuru Asakura, a rival of Hiramoto, will take on Juntaro Ushiku in 2023. The exact date for their matchup is not known at the moment.
Hiramoto scored his first wins as an MMA fighter earlier this year, prevailing over Hiroaki Suzuki and Satoshi Yamasu.
Umeno was making his third RIZIN appearance this year. He earned a win and a loss in previous 2022 bouts for the promotion.
Bout 5: Yuki Motoya (32-10) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (17-4) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Motoya Stops UFC Alum Bontorin With Knee
Yuki Motoya scored a knockout finish against former UFC talent Rogerio Bontorin on Saturday night, putting him out cold with a knee in the second round.
Motoya first hurt Bontorin with a kick to the body in the second round. He followed this up with a perfectly-timed knee to the head of Bontorin, knocking him out and causing the fight to end immediately.
A large portion of the fight was in a clinch position against the ropes and corners of the ring.
Bontorin was appearing for the first time since a six-fight UFC run from 2019 to 2022. He departed the promotion’s roster with a even three wins and three losses.
Veteran Motoya is now on a five-fight winning streak, including four wins from this year alone. His prior win was just last month, overcoming Kazuma Kuramoto on scorecards.
Bout 4: Johnny Case (27-9-1) vs. Nobumitsu Tyson (14-6) (156 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Case Snaps Losing Streak Against Short-Notice Opponent
Johnny Case needed just seconds to stop short-notice opponent Nobumitsu Tyson, unloading punches to stop the fight in its opening moments.
Case scored a knockdown just seconds into the fight with an overhand right. He then landed a series of hooks to the head of a grounded Tyson, continuing until the referee stepped in to end the fight.
The fight was Case’s first victory since 2019. He snapped a three-fight skid with the performance, ending a losing streak that included losses to tough opponents like Roberto Satoshi Souza and Koji Takeda.
Tyson took the fight earlier this month, stepping in to replace rising lightweight Luiz Gustavo.
Bout 3: Yoshiki Nakahara (17-5) vs. Chihiro Suzuki (9-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Suzuki Stops Nakahara Early, Earns Fourth RIZIN Win of 2022
Chihiro Suzuki ended his highly successful year with a finish win over Yoshiki Nakahara, stopping him in the first round with a combination of punches.
A back-and-forth opening round between the featherweights came to an end after a solid series of blows from Suzuki.
Suzuki first stunned Nakahara with a left hook during an exchange, causing him to back up. In pursuit, Suzuki followed-up with a right and left hook that dropped Nakahara, causing the bout to end.
The victory put an end to Suzuki’s highly successful 2022. He picked up four victories this year in MMA, including victories over Ren Hiramoto and Kyohei Hagiwara.
Nakahara entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak from both ONE Championship and RIZIN. His previous victory was also a finish, stopping Akira Haraguchi at RIZIN 39 in October.
Bout 2: BeyNoah (1-2) vs. Sho Patrick Usami (5-1) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Usami Drops BeyNoah Early For Sixth
Lightweight prospect Sho Patrick Usami scored a quick knockout against kickboxer BeyNoah, putting him away in less than a minute with punches.
Usami connected with a clean left hook against BeyNoah early on, flattening him and causing the fight to end abruptly in the opening round.
Usami, a 22-year-old that only debuted in MMA last year, now has six wins as a pro. He first honed his skills on the regional scene in Japan while under sponsorship by the entertainment company LDH.
He won his RIZIN debut in October, scoring a third-round finish over veteran Shinji Sasaki.
BeyNoah, a kickboxer for RISE Kickboxing, was aiming to even his MMA record to two wins and two losses. His previous appearance in the sport was on New Year’s Eve 2021, when he was submitted by Koji Takeda.
Bout 1: Yushi (2-1) vs. Tatsuya Nakazawa (1-0) (137 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Yushi Ends His 2022 With Third Consecutive Win
Charasmatic bantamweight talent Yushi opened the night with a victory, using ground control to earn a unanimous decision victory over Tatsuya Nakazawa.
Yushi showcased his superior grappling skills against Nakazawa, taking him to the ground in all three rounds and keeping him grounded for extended periods of time. Yushi was able to both land strikes and attempt submissions while in dominant positions against Nakazawa.
Yushi’s 2022 has now concluded with three wins within the year. This was a strong turnaround for him after losing his debut on 2021 New Year’s Eve against Kota Miura.
Nakazawa, a 43-year-old talent, entered the bout with quite an uphill battle. He had just one previous fight as a pro, which dates back to 2015. Nakazawa saw some success despite this, connecting with shots early on against Yushi.