McKee-Freire gets date, Horiguchi to vie for inaugural Bellator flyweight belt
The Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix quarterfinals will wrap up this summer at another co-promotion event with Rizin FF.
Former champions AJ McKee and Patricky "Pitbull" Freire are set to headline Bellator X Rizin 2 on July 30 in Saitama, Japan, the promotions announced Saturday morning.
Additionally, Kyoji Horiguchi will face Makoto "Shinryu" Takahashi for the inaugural Bellator flyweight title. MMA Junkie's Nolan King reported Thursday that Bellator planned to add a men's 125-pound division, its 10th weight class and first addition since 2014.
Uniquely, Bellator X Rizin 2 will feature fights both in the cage and the ring. Some will be considered Bellator matchups, which will use the cage and the Unified Rules of MMA. Others will be considered Rizin FF bouts, which will use the ring and that promotion's rule set.
Despite being on the Bellator roster, Juan Archuleta and Tofiq Musayev will compete during the Rizin FF portion of the event. Archuleta, the former Bellator bantamweight champion, will face former Rizin FF champ Kai Asakura for the vacant Rizin FF bantamweight title. An opponent for Musayev wasn't announced.
McKee, the former Bellator featherweight champion, is set to take on his second "Pitbull" brother. He's fought Patricio Freire twice, defeating him by submission in 2021 to win the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix and the undisputed title. McKee then lost the belt to him via unanimous decision in 2022.
Patricky Freire is a former Bellator lightweight champion. He lost the title to current champ Usman Nurmagomedov in his first defense last November.
Horiguchi is a former Bellator and Rizin FF bantamweight champion. He's also an ex-UFC flyweight contender and was considered one of the best at 125 pounds for years before spending several of his most recent fights at 135 pounds.
The winner between McKee and Freire will advance to the tournament semifinals against Alexander Shabliy.
McKee headlined the first Bellator versus Rizin event on New Year's Eve last year, besting Rizin FF lightweight champ Roberto de Souza in a non-title bout.