Former UFC flyweight title challenger John Dodson is ready to kickstart the latest chapter of his fighting career after signing for Japanese promotion Rizin FF.

Dodson, who won the bantamweight tournament in the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2011, went on to fight 16 times in the octagon before his release in late 2020.

Now, following a pair of back-to-back decision wins for XMMA in the United States and a knockout victory in BKFC, “The Magician” is all set to head east, where he’ll make his Rizin debut on their New Year’s Eve card at Rizin 40, which also serves as a special co-promoted event with Bellator.

Dodson’s debut in the Rizin ring will come against Hideo Tokoro, a legend of Japanese MMA who has competed from flyweight all the way up to heavyweight in his 68-fight professional career.

Now the 45-year-old will welcome Dodson to Rizin as they face off inside the Saitama Super Arena on December 31, and Dodson can’t wait.

“It’s gonna be awesome to get an opportunity to fight back in Japan,” said Dodson, whose second pro fight came in Tokyo back in November 2014.

“Rizin is an amazing promotion. Hideo Tokoro is a legend in the sport and it’s only right that I get a legend to showcase my skills. He has some great grappling. I’m going to stop it with my wrestling and striking.

“I just wanna show the Japanese fans my fighting style and this amazing smile of mine!”

Tokoro, meanwhile, said he was happy to welcome a former UFC title challenger to the Rizin ring.

“I’m delighted to be able to return to the NYE ring against a former UFC ranker,” he said.

“I will do everything it takes to see the view with my colleagues after fighting three rounds with such an opponent.”

Dodson vs. Tokoro joins a packed card of fights from the Saitama Super Arena, as Rizin and Bellator team up to bring down the curtain on 2022 in style.

Rizin 40: Bellator vs. Rizin – Confirmed Fights

  • Roberto Souza vs. A.J. McKee – Rizin vs. Bellator bout
  • Kleber Koike vs. Patricio Pitbull – Rizin vs. Bellator bout
  • Soo Chul Kim vs. Juan Archuleta – Rizin vs. Bellator bout
  • Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Kyoji Horiguchi – Rizin vs. Bellator bout
  • Koji Takeda vs. Gadzhi Rabadanov – Rizin vs. Bellator bout
  • Seika Izawa vs. Si Woo Park
  • Johnny Case vs. Luiz Gustavo
  • Beynoa vs. Patrick Usamo
  • Naoki Inoue vs. Kenta Takizawa
  • Yuki Motoya vs. Rogerio Bontorin
  • Hideo Tokoro vs. John Dodson