Bellator’s trip to Japan for a pair of cards themed around Bellator vs. RIZIN matchups is starting to come together. The cards — Bellator: Japan and RIZIN 20 — take place Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, respectively, and look to showcase top talent from each promotion in a series of showdowns.
Unfortunately, one star who has proven his worth in both the RIZIN ring and Bellator cage has been taken out of action for the Dec. 31 RIZIN 20 card. RIZIN and Bellator bantamweight champ Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) was scheduled to rematch Kai Asakura, who knocked him out in just 67 seconds in a non-title fight at RIZN 18 in August. This time around, Horiguchi’s belt was set to be on the line. Unfortunately, an ACL tear and meniscus injury to the champ has forced him out of action for up to 10 months.
According to a RIZIN press release, Horiguchi has requested to relinquish his championship as a result of the anticipated layoff.
In more positive news for the cards, Bellator welterweight contender Lorenz Larkin (21-7) will look to build on his win over Andrey Koreshkov in October when he faces Keita Nakamura (34-10-2) at Bellator: Japan. Larkin ran his winning streak to three with the win over Koreshkov and is closing in fast on a championship opportunity. Nakamura will be fighting for the first time since being released from the UFC after trading wins and losses over an eight-fight run in the Octagon.
Undefeated Bellator bantamweight Patrick Mix (12-0) will compete at RIZIN 20 when he faces off with RIZIN’s Yuki Motoya (23-7). Mix has scored a pair of first-round submissions since joining Bellator while Motoya is riding a two-fight losing skid in the RIZIN ring.
Both cards are expected to have many more bouts announced in the coming days.
More MMA news, rumors
- Frankie Edgar continues the recent trend of established top-tier veterans changing weight classes with a jump into deep water in the latter years of their career. Instead of moving up, however, Edgar (22-7-1) is moving down to bantamweight where he will face rising star Cory Sandhagen (12-1) at UFC Fight Night 166 on Jan. 25 from Raleigh, North Carolina.
- UFC Fight Night 166 also received five more fights. Flyweight Justine Kish (6-2) will meet Lucie Pudilova (8-5), middleweights Bevon Lewis (6-2) and Alen Amedovski (8-2) will clash, Jamahal Hill (5-0) looks to remain undefeated at light heavyweight when he faces Darko Stošić (13-3), Montel Jackson (8-1) meets Felipe Colares (8-1) at bantamweight and featherweights Herbert Burns (9-2) and Nate Landwehr (12-2) will do battle.
- According to an MMA Fighting report, the UFC will return to Brazil for a Fight Night to be held March 14, 2020. This news comes days ahead of UFC Fight Night 164 from Sao Paulo, Brazil.