Former Bellator champions AJ McKee and Patricky "Pitbull" Freire will compete in the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix quarterfinals July 30 at the storied Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo in one of the headlining fights for a card billed as Bellator x Rizin 2, it was announced Saturday morning in Japan.
In addition to McKee vs. Pitbull, former Bellator and Rizin bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi will face Makoto "Shinryu" Takahashi in the inaugural Bellator flyweight title fight. Kana Watanabe will take on Veta Arteaga in a battle of Bellator women's flyweight contenders.
The card comes on the heels of a successful co-promotion between Bellator and Rizin on New Year's Eve, which was headlined by McKee and Rizin lightweight champion Roberto "Satoshi" de Souza in a nontitle bout.
The event in July will be unique. The Bellator fights will take place in a cage under the Unified Rules of MMA. The Rizin fights will take place in a ring under Rizin rules, which include kicks and knees to the head of grounded opponents.
On the Rizin side, former Rizin bantamweight champion Kai Asakura will face former Bellator bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta for the vacant Rizin bantamweight title, and Mikuru Asakura will face Vugar Karamov in a Rizin featherweight title eliminator bout. The Asakura brothers are two of Rizin's top stars, both popular YouTubers in Japan. Bellator's Tofiq Musayev will also be on the Rizin portion of the event.
McKee (20-1) has won two straight at lightweight since dropping the Bellator featherweight title to Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, the brother of Patricky. A native of California, McKee, 28, has the most stoppage victories (13) and most submissions wins in Bellator history (7). He won the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix in 2021, beating Patricio in the finals.
Patricky (24-11) lost the Bellator lightweight title to current champion Usman Nurmagomedov in November. The Brazilian-born striker has dropped three of four. Patricky, 37, is tied for the most knockout wins in Bellator history (10) with Michael "Venom" Page.
The McKee vs. Pitbull winner will face Alexandr Shabliy in the grand prix semifinals.