Bellator MMA president Scott Coker was ecstatic following his organization's 5-0 victory over Rizin Fighting Federation on New Year's Eve. In a historic cross-promotion event in Saitama, Japan, A.J. McKee defeated RIZIN Lightweight champion Roberto de Souza.
The rest of the card was also action-packed, with Patricio Freire defeating 145-pound champion Kleber Koike, Kyoji Horiguchi defeating Hiromosa Ougikubo, Juan Archuleta defeating Soo Chul Kim, and Gadzhi Rabadanov defeating Koji Takeda all going to decisions.
Following the event, Bellator's Scott Coker praised RIZIN's talent and growth over the year before turning his attention to his crew. Not just the event's winners, but his entire roster, which he claims can compete with the best, including beating some of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) top fighters.
“It just shows you how much the RIZIN fighters have grown in the last five, six years, I see a big growth spurt. Keep in mind, when you are talking about the Bellator athletes, and I’m not just saying this because it’s a company I run, but, over the last six or seven years this is the best roster we’ve ever had in the history of the company,” said Coker during the post-event presser.
“And if you look at every weight class, we have the best 205-pounder in the world that can compete with anybody. The best 185 pounds in Johnny Eblen, I’m telling you this guy just beat Gegard Mousasi, so he’s another guy,” he added.
“But if you go all the way up and down our weight class, not only do we have fighters that can beat the UFC (fighters), we have fighters that can compete, three or four fighters at each weight class that can compete against any company on the planet. So we have a very strong fighter base right now.
There's no denying Bellator's roster has improved in recent years due to Coker's aggressive approach to signing free agents, many of whom come over from the UFC ranks. Unfortunately, because Dana White opposes cross-promotion, we will never know who is the best in the world.