One event remains in the season for our MMASucka staff picks.
An exciting one it will be with Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN taking place Saturday, December 31st from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Top-ranked fighters from the two promotions, Bellator MMA and Rizin Fighting Federation, will square off against one another in a special showcase to conclude the year of 2022.
The co-promotional event with five incredible matchups will begin succeeding the events of RIZIN 40 at roughly 5:00am ET (2:00am PT) on FITE in select countries. A tape delay of the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN card will begin for viewers in the United States on Showtime at 8:00pm (5:00pm PT).
Results from both RIZIN 40 and Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN will be available here at MMASucka.
Stay tuned in the following weeks for MMASucka’s 2023 staff picks.
Bellator representative A.J. McKee will take on RIZIN representative Robert Satoshi Souza in the featured main event at lightweight.
27-year-old McKee is set for a quick turnaround after securing a unanimous decision win over Spike Carlyle in October. The former Bellator featherweight champion faced his only professional defeat in April of this year to Patricio Pitbull, a rematch, as tonight he will target a 20th win to his resume. McKee’s opponent, Satoshi Souza, brings a similar record with only one defeat to his name in late 2019 to Johnny Case by knockout. The Brazilian talent has finished all 14 of his victories including his winning of the promotional title over Tofiq Musayev and his first-round submission in an April, title-defending rematch over Case.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 30, 2022
With a combined 76 fights, featherweight kings will clash in the co-main event as Bellator’s Patricio Pitbull battles RIZIN’s Kleber Koike. Current three-time Bellator featherweight champion and former lightweight champion Pitbull looks to end his the year with three straight wins after defeating the aforementioned McKee and Adam Borics both by unanimous decision. Current RIZIN title holder and former KSW champion Koike rides an eight fight win streak including his capturing of the belt from Juntarou Ushiku just over two months ago.
Also competing sees a rematch as former Shooto, RIZIN, and Bellator bantamweight champion Kyogi Horiguchi set against former two-divisional Shooto champion and 2021’s RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix champion Hiromasa Ougikubo. Horiguchi took their first fight by unanimous decision over Ougikubo in July of 2018 at RIZIN 11.
Two additional fights compose the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN event. Former four-divisional King of the Cage king Juan Archuleta takes on former ONE bantamweight champion and former two-divisional Road FC champion Soo Chul Kim in the bantamweight division, while three-fight Bellator veteran Gadzhi Rabadanov squares off with eight-fight RIZIN veteran Koji Takeda.
See our Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN staff picks to close out MMASucka’s 2022 season further below.
Staff picks in 2022 will follow the same set of rules from the 2021 season. Throughout the calendar year, staff picks will be composed of main card fights from both UFC and Bellator events. Main card fights and selected preliminary fights will be included for PFL MMA. Dana White’s Contender Series are composed of bouts from the entire card.
The WINNER of staff picks in 2022 will have a choice between receiving a custom-made championship belt from ProAmBelts or a chain from Championship Chains. A winner is determined simply by the individual correctly picking the most victorious fighters at the year’s end. Nate Freeman secured his first victory with MMASucka in 2021 with a compiled record 243-136.
As we conclude another great year, who are the MMASucka staff picking to win at Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN?
Staff Records after UFC Vegas 66:
1. Wesley Riddle: 259-135
2. Michael DeSantis: 255-139
3. Frazer Krohn: 251-143
4. Nate Freeman: 247-133
5. Jeremy Brand: 237-150
6. Andrew Benjamin: 214-163
7. Tim Wheaton: 192-119
8. Julio Monteros Jr.: 183-104
9. William Dong: 173-106
10. Chris Presnell: 170-120
11. Brian Knight: 155-113
12. Jack Goodwillie: 145-75
13. Mike Lynch: 123-74
14. Brandon Joint: 115-74
15. Ash Camyab: 105-77
16. Coby Weinsier: 87-47
17. Roemello Reyes: 75-45
18. Chinyere Okafor: 72-38
19. Ben Jamieson: 72-33
20. Jacek Okninski: 70-58
21. Matt Bricker: 24-22
22. Joe Porter: 11-5
*Note – not all staff pick for every event*
Kyoji Takeda (15-3)
Gadzhi Rabadanov (18-4-1)
– 155 lbs. –
Jeremy Brand: Rabadanov via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Rabadanov via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Takeda via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Takeda via Unanimous Decision
Frazer Krohn: Rabadanov via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Rabadanov via Round 2 TKO
Brian Knight: Rabadanov via Unanimous Decision
Jack Goodwillie: Rabadanov via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Takeda: 2
Staff picking Rabadanov: 6
Soo Chul Kim (18-6-1)
Juan Archuleta (26-4)
– 135 lbs. –
Jeremy Brand: Archuleta via Round 2 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Chul Kim via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Frazer Krohn: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Brian Knight: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Jack Goodwillie: Archuleta via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Chul Kim: 1
Staff picking Archuleta: 7
Hiromasa Ougikubo (25-6-2)
Kyoji Horiguchi (29-5)
– 125 lbs. –
Jeremy Brand: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Andrew Benjamin: Horiguchi via Round 3 TKO
Frazer Krohn: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Nate Freeman: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Brian Knight: Horiguchi via Round 2 TKO
Jack Goodwillie: Horiguchi via Round 1 TKO
Staff picking Ougikubo: 0
Staff picking Horiguchi: 8
Kleber Koike (31-5-1)
Patricio Pitbull (34-5)
– 145 lbs. –
Jeremy Brand: Pitbull via Round 2 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Pitbull via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Koike via Split Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Pitbull via Round 1 TKO
Frazer Krohn: Pitbull via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Pitbull via Split Decision
Brian Knight: Koike via Round 2 SUB
Jack Goodwillie: Pitbull via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Koike: 2
Staff picking Pitbull: 6
Roberto Satoshi Souza (14-1)
A.J. McKee (19-1)
– 155 lbs. –
Jeremy Brand: McKee via Round 3 SUB
Wesley Riddle: McKee via Round 3 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Satoshi Souza via Split Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Satoshi Souza via Round 1 SUB
Frazer Krohn: McKee via Round 3 SUB
Nate Freeman: McKee via Round 1 SUB
Brian Knight: McKee via Round 1 TKO
Jack Goodwillie: McKee via Round 1 SUB
Staff picking Satoshi Souza: 2
Staff picking McKee: 6