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Kleber Koike not proud, but unapologetic about locker room brawl with Pitbull brothers in Japan

Kleber Koike fought Patricio Pitbull in 2022
Photo via RIZIN

Former RIZIN featherweight champion Kleber Koike is opening up about an incident involving Bellator stars Patricio Pitbull and Patricky Pitbull backstage at Super RIZIN 2 this past weekend in Saitama, Japan.

The Pitbull brothers took to social media right after the event to accuse Koike of invading their locker room and attacking Patricky from behind. Patricky had just beaten Koike’s teammate, Roberto Satoshi, and Patricio lost by knockout to Chihiro Suzuki.

Koike initially declined to comment when asked by MMA Fighting on Sunday, but he changed his mind after watching the Bellator fighters discuss the situation on social media and in interviews.

According to Koike, the relationship between both teams took a bad turn due to mistranslation.

Koike has a YouTube channel in Japan and said he posted a video making picks before the event. In the video, he favored Patricky to defeat his original opponent A.J. McKee, who would later be replaced by Satoshi. However, he said he chided both Freires for siding with his “rival” Mikuru Asakura instead of Kyohei Hagiwara, who trained at Pitbull Brothers in Brazil in the past.

Koike accused a member of Freire’s entourage, Japan-based Fernando Inafuku, of mistranslating his comments to Pitbull’s team. According to Koike, Inafuku told the Bellator fighters he had called them “b******.”

“First of all, there’s not even a word in Japanese for ‘b****,’” Koike said on this week's episode of Trocação Franca. “I’ve lived here for 20 years, and my Japanese isn’t good, but this guy can’t speak Japanese. Second, he claims I said the Pitbull brothers were in the end of their careers, that they were old, that they were with Asakura for money. I never said those words. This Fernando guy was trying to cause this rift. He’s a nobody in Japan.”

Koike said he wasn’t aware that both Pitbull brothers were mad at him, because they had met at the hotel during fight week and nothing was said. He was already attending the event because he was supposed to enter the ring to challenge the winner of Vugar Karamov vs. Mikuru Asakura, who battled for the vacant 145-pound title.

According to Koike, he picked Patricio to beat Suzuki on a week’s notice in what he called a “mismatch.” Instead, Suzuki knocked Freire out in the opening stanza.

“I, was a spectator, was surprised,” Koike said. “Not that Pitbull went down, or that Suzuki won, but at how it happened. No one expected that. That kid went from a nobody to a star in Japan. He knocked out the pound-for-pound best fighter outside the UFC, and that was surprising to everybody.

“When I celebrated — it wasn’t even a celebration, it was a surprise — the entire arena went down, and it couldn’t be any different. I fought Chihiro a month ago and submitted him in three minutes. Wouldn’t you be surprised, too?”

Patricky entered the ring to check on his brother and gave Koike the finger after seeing his reaction. The Bellator fighter then walked in his direction and put both hands on Koike’s chest, pushing him back.

Koike said members of the Bellator staff were sitting right next to them and started “laughing at my face” about the incident, so he questioned RIZIN officials about possible repercussions for Patricky.

“For those that don’t know, assault is a crime in Japan,” Koike said. “You’ll see two Japanese arguing face to face, but no one touches the other. The law says that the first one that lays their hand is wrong. You can get arrested here in Japan for that. He assaulted me, and I went to question RIZIN if they were going to do something about it.”

According to Koike, officials called RIZIN executive Keiichi Sasahara, who invited him to watch the rest of the card someplace else in the area. But he opted against going backstage to avoid another melee with the Pitbull brothers. Yet, Koike said he changed his mind once he realized RIZIN wasn’t going to do anything about the incident, walking backstage during the intermission looking for Pitbull’s locker room.

“They said I was a coward attacking from behind, and that’s bullsh*t,” Koike said. “Patricky really had his back to me but Patricio and his coaches were looking at me. I came in saying, ‘What’s up? Let’s solve this. You pushed me, huh?’ When [Patricky] turned, I push kicked him and he fell. Patricio comes at me and we exchange punches, we brawl it out. I fall down, and he tries to guillotine me, but he didn’t squeeze s***. It’s bulls***. And it’s a flat-out brawl after that. Judges came in, doctors, security, everybody.”

Koike said they were separated and taken outside the room. Sasahara asked him to leave the arena and go back home, Koike said, and he does that feeling the situation was resolved “like men.”

“They started the fight and I defended myself,” Koike said. “If they want to talk it over tomorrow, cool. Let’s be mature, sit down and have a talk, as we should have done back then. It all started because this motherf***** Fernando, their translator. This guy is s***.”

“I’m cool. I’m at peace,” he added. “I didn’t want to talk about it because it’s over, it happened. Do I regret it? No. I was there as a father, a man. This is my home. Am I proud of it? No. We fight hard to take the sport to another level and show it’s correct, we can’t act like that. The only person with something to lose here is me because I live in Japan. They went back to Brazil, and stuff like this sells in Brazil, and in the United States, but it’s not OK in Japan.”

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