The final five fights at Rizin 40 saw the Japanese promotion put five of it best fighters against opponents representing Bellator. All of them went the distance with the American promotion coming out top on each occasion.
With Bellator having won the first four fights the pressure was on reigning Rizin lightweight champion Roberto de Souza heading into the main event. His title wasn’t on the line but promotional pride was definitely at stake when he took on AK McKee.
The Brazilian pulled guard and looked to lock in one of his trademark triangle chokes at the start of the fight. He transitioned to a triangle but while de Souza was extremely active off his back the American never looked in trouble and was being aggressive with strikes from top position.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 31, 2022
Punches and kicks
In the second stanza de Souza started to score with punches and kicks. McKee attacked with a side kick but the Brazilian caught it and took his back, locking in a body triangle and looking for a rear naked choke.
The American worked his way out and landed a big head stomp which seemed to interrupt de Souza’s momentum. The Brazilian secured a takedown and looked for a guillotine choke at the start of the third round.
McKee worked his way out and with the pace clearly having taken its toll on both men the action slowed. De Souza shot for a takedown and, having fought off a guillotine attempt from the American, eventually secured top position.
He looked for a head and arm choke and McKee gave up his back. The fight finished with de Souza trying for a rear naked choke and the Brazilian was clearly in control as the bell sounded.
But all three judges scored the contest for McKee who improves to 20-1. De Souza drops to 14-2 after suffering just the second loss of his career.
— AJ “The Mercenary” McKee (@ajmckee101) December 31, 2022
Best of the rest
The outcome was identical when de Souza’s Bonsai Jiu Jitsu teammate Kleber Koike took on Patricio Freire in an all Brazilian featherweight fight. The Rizin representative repeatedly pulled guard and was desperate to get the fight to the ground but couldn’t do it.
Koike did finally put his opponent on his back in the third round but he couldn’t keep it there. It wasn’t the most action packed of fights but all three judges voted in favour of Freire.
The reigning Bellator featherweight champion improves to 35-5. Meanwhile Koike drops to 31-6-1 although he remains the Rizin featherweight champion as there wasn’t a title on the line here.