The collaboration between Bellator and RIZIN continues on stronger than ever and that’s being showcased to its fullest at the big upcoming Madison Square Garden show.
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RIZIN and Bellator announced on Wednesday that Japanese atomweight superstar, Rena Kubota (8-2) will make her way stateside for the very first time as she’ll take on Lindsey VanZandt (5-1) in a 112-pound catchweight affair at Bellator 222 on June 14.
“I was surprised when I received an offer to join Bellator this month at Madison Square Garden,” Rena said via press release. “But it was my big dream to play in the US so it would come true. I’m happy and excited, and I’ve heard that it’s the first time a Japanese female professional fighter has a match at Madison Square Garden so I want to win the show and appeal to the Bellator fans for shoot boxing and RIZIN.”
Despite Bellator’s lack of an atomweight division, VanZandt made history in the promotion as the first fighter to win at 105-pounds in her Bellator debut at Bellator 215 in February when she defeated Tabatha Watkins by second-round TKO.
Bellator President Scott Coker has voiced his openness to potentially making the division a reality, but for now, they’ll continue to put on good fights if there are good fights to be made – division or not.
For the striking sensation in Rena, her last fight took place at RIZIN 15 in late April when she rebounded off of her second career defeat to fellow divisional elite, Kanna Asakura. She would pick up a solid unanimous decision win over Samantha Jean-Francois.
Also on the card is the big bantamweight championship rematch pitting RIZIN’s champion, Kyoji Horiguchi against Bellator’s Darrion Caldwell. Check out the rest of the stacked Bellator 222 card below.
Main Card (DAZN, 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST)
- Light Heavyweight – 205lbs: Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen
- Welterweight – 170lbs: (C)Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie
- Bantamweight – 135lbs: (C)Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
- Catchweight – 175lbs: Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey
- Featherweight – 145lbs: Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics
Preliminary Card (Bellator.com, 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST)
- Flyweight – 125lbs: Heather Hardy vs. Taylor Turner
- Catchweight – 112lbs: Rena Kubota vs Lindsey VanZandt
- Middleweight – 185lbs: Phil Hawes vs. Michael Wilcox
- Welterweight: Robson Gracie vs. Oscar Vera
- Bantamweight: Ricky Bandejas vs. Patrick Mix
- Bantamweight: Mike Kimbel vs. Sebastian Ruiz
- Flyweight: Brandon Polcare vs. Brandon Medina
- Featherweight: John Beneduce vs. Kenny Rivera
- Catchweight – 165lbs: Kastriot Xhema vs. Whitney Francois
Drake Riggs is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women's fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at: "Drake Riggs" where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.