Former Bellator lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull took his late-notice opponent change in his stride, then chopped down his new foe to progress to the semi-finals of the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix.

Pitbull was due to face AJ McKee in a quarter-final bout at the Bellator vs. Rizin 2 event in Saitama, but after an infection ruled “The Mercenary” out of the bout during fight week, Rizin lightweight champion Roberto “Satoshi” Souza was drafted in on short notice, with the bout agreed at a catchweight of 161 pounds.

But, despite facing a very different test, Pitbull stayed focused and used his power striking to finish his Japan-based compatriot early in the third round.

Pitbull found a home for his strikes in Round 2 and, after rocking his man earlier in the round, dropped Souza in the final minute of the frame with a flying knee. Despite seemingly scrambling the senses of the Rizin champion, Pitbull opted not to go all out for the finish on the mat, perhaps respecting Souza’s much-vaunted submission skills off his back.

Instead, Pitbull kept compact and stuck to his gameplan as the bout headed into the third round and resumed his striking-based attack. The Bellator man found his range early in the round, and connected with a heavy leg kick that sent Souza to the mat. This time Pitbull did follow his man to the floor, and he finished Souza with some hard ground strikes to force referee Kerry Hatley to wave off the bout 49 seconds into the round.

No contest leaves inaugural flyweight belt vacant

The co-main event was all set to crown Bellator’s inaugural flyweight champion, but unfortunately, an accidental eye poke ended the bout in a no contest mere seconds after it had begun.

Former two-promotion champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Rizin star Makoto Shinryu faced off for the chance to become the first-ever Bellator champ at 125 pounds, but when a stray Horiguchi finger poked Shinryu in the eye and left him unable to continue, the bout was waved off with just 25 seconds elapsed, as the title remained vacant.

The one finish on the undercard came courtesy of Russian bantamweight contender Magomed Magomedov, who made short work of fellow 135-pound contender Danny Sabatello, finishing the American via guillotine choke in the first round of their matchup.

Also on the card, there were victories for Kana Watanabe, who defeated Veta Artega via unanimous decision, and Andrey Koreshkov, who edged Lorenz Larkin via split decsion.

Bellator vs. Rizin 2: Official results

  • Patricky Pitbull def. Roberto Souza via TKO (leg kick and ground strikes) – Round 3, 0:49 – Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-final
  • Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Shinryu ruled a no contest (accidental eye poke) – Round 1, 0:25 – for vacant Bellator flyweight title
  • Kana Watanabe def. Veta Artega via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Magomed Magomedov def. Danny Sabatello via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 3:55
  • Andrey Koreshkov vs. Lorenz Larkin via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)