TOKYO – Bellator MMA has signed King of Pancrase welterweight champion, Masayuki Kikuiri (7-2-1), to an exclusive multi-fight, multi-year contract. The 27-year-old Kikuiri joins Bellator after a successful 10-fight run with Pancrase, Japan's longest-running martial arts organization, that culminated with him winning the 170-pound championship. U-NEXT is the exclusive live streaming partner of all Bellator events in Japan including Kikuiri's future bouts.
Kikuiri joins a talent-stacked welterweight division including champion Yaroslav Amosov, interim champion Logan Storley, along with Michael "Venom" Page, Jason Jackson, Douglas Lima and Goiti Yamauchi.
Welterweight King of Pancrase, Masayuki Kikuiri:
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
Bellator MMA CEO, Scott Coker:
"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 170-pounds, a division that I consider one of our deepest."
Pancrase executive committee executive director Hidetaka Fukui:
"Under the leadership of Mr. Scott Coker, Bellator has become a world premier MMA organization, both in name and reality. Bellator has strengthened its MMA presence and influence over the years and is highly recognized in Japan. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to send our fighter to Bellator from Pancrase, one of Japan's nationally treasured MMA organizations. I would like to express my gratitude to Bellator President, Mr. Scott Coker, and all on team Bellator for this opportunity.
"I would also like to express gratitude to my management partner in the U.S. and Owner of Arsenal Sports Management, Mr. Tiki Ghosn, without whose efforts this incredible opportunity would not have been possible.
"As the King of Pancrase Welterweight Champion, Kikuiri represents the elite of his division in Japan. Indeed, I would like to have seen him compete in Japan for a while longer, but when I heard of his desire to step up the world stage, I thought about his future potential and decided that Pancrase would support him 100 percent in realizing his dream.
"We hope to see this as an opportunity for the King of Pancrase champion, Masayuki Kikuiri, to pave the way in fighting the very best athletes overseas and look forward to his success in Bellator."