Reigning interim welterweight King of Pancrase Masayuki Kikuiri has signed with Bellator. The Japanese promotion announced the move this morning in an official press release.
Kikuiri’s departure is clearly amicable and it sounds like Pancrase will be encouraging fighters to sign with Bellator in the future. The 27 year old only recently captured the interim title, beating Akihiro Murayama at Pancrase 324.
He was subsequently named as the official champion after his predecessor Hiroyuki Tetsuka signed with ONE Championship. Kikuiri says he is excited to finally have the opportunity to compete internationally,
“First of all, I’m very happy to be able to compete on the top stage MMA organization Bellator. The roster is stacked with tough guys and I’m excited to be coming after them.”
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But Kikuiri has not forgotten the Japanese promotion that he has spent his entire career competing for up to this point,
“I’ve fought only for Pancrase from my MMA debut and every fight until becoming champion. I’m grateful to Pancrase for helping me grow and kindly sending me out to fight under the Pancrase banner. I’ll be sure to proudly show the strength of the long line of King of Pancrase champions to the world.”
Scott Coker appears to have signed some sort of a talent sharing deal with Pancrase. He says Kikuiri is joining a stacked division,
“At Bellator we are continuously evaluating talent throughout the world in an effort to build on our robust roster of elite athletes. When it comes to Masayuki Kikuiri specifically, his run in Pancrase has been impressive, winning their welterweight championship. I’m interested to see him match up against some of our talent at 170lbs, a division that I consider one of our deepest.”
Kikuiri will be joining Kyoji Horiguchi on the roster. The former bantamweight champion got back to winning ways with a submission victory at Rizin 38 last weekend.
I am incredibly happy to be signed with Arsenal Sports Agency, which has managed many of the top, famous and most respected fighters in MMA history. I will do the company proud to achieve the level of results they are known for.”
“I’m very grateful to Mr. Scott Coker for this opportunity and everyone involved in making this happen. I promise I’m coming for finishes and will be a BELLATOR fighter that’ll make Japan proud.”