Nemkov-Romero, Pettis-Pitbull set for Bellator 297
Bellator is bringing out the big guns for its return to the Windy City.
Light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov will defend his title against Yoel Romero in the main event of Bellator 297 on June 16 in Chicago, the promotion announced Monday.
In the co-headliner, featherweight champ Patricio "Pitbull" Freire will attempt to become the first three-division titleholder in Bellator history when he challenges Sergio Pettis for the bantamweight belt.
Additionally, former Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis will square off against Corey Anderson as part of the event's main card, Bellator officials told ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
Nemkov is coming off a dominant win over Anderson last November, which served as his fourth title defense and the final of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. He was initially scheduled to face Romero in February but had to withdraw.
Romero, a former UFC middleweight title challenger, has won two straight, most recently finishing Melvin Manhoef last September. He began his Bellator tenure in 2021 with a split-decision loss to Davis. Romero was scheduled to compete in the grand prix but pulled out due to a medical issue.
Pettis has been out of action since his first bantamweight title defense against former champion Kyoji Horiguchi in December 2021. He tore his ACL and couldn't compete in the Bantamweight Grand Prix.
As a result, Raufeon Stots fought Juan Archuleta for the interim title in the tournament's opening round, with Stots claiming the belt by knockout. Stots is slated to meet Patchy Mix in the final on April 22. The winner of that bout will take on the winner between Pettis and Freire.
"Pitbull" regained the Bellator featherweight title - beginning his third 145-pound reign - with a win over AJ McKee last April and defended it once against Adam Borics. The Brazilian used to hold lightweight gold but relinquished that title to give his brother, Patricky Freire, a chance to become champ.
Freire, who most recently competed at the Bellator versus Rizin FF event on New Year's Eve, is dropping to 135 pounds for the first time in his career.