The Bellator vs Rizin event was probably the perfect combat sports show to kick off 2023 with a bang. Legendary fighters from all across the globe gathered in Japan for this spectacular fighting event. One of Bellator’s representative fighters Gadzhi Rabadanov was aided by one of his coaching figures and a combat sports legend Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov.
Bellator up 1-0. Rabadanov gets the decision win. Khabib in the ring now congratulating Takeda, who is a tough, tough man. #BellatorvsRizin
— Marc Raimondi (@marcraimondi) December 31, 2022
Bellator president Scott Coker was around Khabib when the event was taking place. Both had quite a bit of conversation regarding different matters. In a later interview, Scott revealed some surprising information about what Khabib had said.
Per Coker, Khabib was blown away by what he saw and he wasn’t just talking about the performances of fighters under his promotion. Khabib was blown away by the presentation, the electrifying audience, and the number of attendance. The lightweight didn’t know such appreciation existed for combat sports in such a far corner of the earth.
“It’s very interesting because he wasn’t here in the heyday, I got to see those fights. A lot of you know that [I’ve been] in the martial arts business a long time, I started working for K-1 in 1999, so I got to see all the great fights in K-1. I got to see the great fights of PRIDE. And Khabib has never see the production and the fans, and he was freaking out.”
Pride was arguably the biggest fighting promotion in the world before UFC blew up and featured some of the biggest names in the fighting industry. Later UFC bought the promotion to expand their own business. Scott reminisced about those days saying,
’ And I said, ‘This is where it started, Khabib. This is where MMA and martial arts combat, it started here – it grew throughout the rest of the world, but there was a time when Japan had the best fighters in the world, the best production in the world, the best promotion in the world, and that’s why the UFC bought it. Just like my company, Strikeforce, I think we had a great roster, great events, so they bought it.”
What are the implications for Khabib?
Such an event is significant for Khabib as the former lightweight champ currently runs his own promotion ‘Eagle FC.’ Khabib probably wants to create an alternative to UFC where he can address his former promotions issues like ring girls and payment issues etc. But now he realizes that his business runs the risk of getting bought up if it gets too big.
On the other hand, Nurmagomedov can look at this whole event in a more positive light as now he is well aware of a potential crowd that might appreciate his promotion’s fights at a new destination. It won’t be too surprising to see Eagle FC pitting its fighters against Rizin at some point.
Khabib has learned and grown from many of his previous experiences and hopefully, this crossover event also offers some wisdom of value for the Russian.