Following the medical complications that were publicly disclosed by Rafael Lovato Jr. (10-0) late last month, the Bellator middleweight champion has decided to relinquish his 185-pound world title. The unbeaten Lovato Jr. defeated former champ Gegard Mousasi to win the title at Bellator 223 in London on June 22, 2019.
“My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Lovato Jr. “I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan. Bellator has been very supportive during this difficult process, a situation that has never really happened before in our sport. I know the division must move on while I am on the sidelines and I wish everyone great fights on their way to that belt. I will be working to come back if it is possible – and if not, life will continue to be amazing for me and I look forward to working with Bellator in another fashion.”
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He is a true warrior of the sport and I cannot say enough about him for making such a difficult decision. His health is the priority for us and we will continue to work with him on addressing the next steps in his career.”
Bellator will announce plans for the vacant middleweight title in the coming days.
Bellator is set to deliver one of the most anticipated bouts in the history of women’s MMA on Saturday, January 25 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif. when reigning champ Julia Budd (13-2) defends her world featherweight title against Cris “Cyborg” (21-2, 1 NC) in the main event.
Bellator: Budd vs. Cyborg will stream live exclusively on the DAZN app at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com, DAZN and globally on the Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.
Fighting out of Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada, Budd will enter the Bellator cage in January for the fourth time since claiming the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight world title in 2017. Currently riding a winning streak of 11 bouts, including seven straight fights since joining forces with Bellator in 2015, “The Jewel” has her eyes set on a fourth consecutive world title defense when she finally has the opportunity to challenge “Cyborg.” Since knocking off Dutch legend Marloes Coenen for the 145-pound strap at Bellator 174, the Gibson MMA-product has since collected victories over top contenders Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe and Talita Nogueira. With seven of her 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, the former kickboxing standout will look to derail the Bellator debut of “Cyborg.”
On the heels of signing the largest contract in women’s MMA history, Cris “Cyborg” will enter the Bellator cage for the first time on January 25, with the opportunity to lay claim to Bellator gold. Just like her upcoming opponent, “Cyborg” too was an inaugural champion, winning the inaugural Strikeforce Featherweight Championship in 2009 after defeating Gina Carano. The 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native’s Bellator tenure follows a three-year run in UFC, multiple world title and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (21-2, 1 NC) has signed with Bellator, the organization announced today. The deal, according to Bellator, is the largest of its kind in women’s MMA history – exclusively secures “Cyborg’s” talents with a multi-year, multi-fight contract.
“Cyborg” joins current champ Julia Budd, Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe, Janay Harding and Leslie Smith among others, cementing Bellator’s 145-pound weight class as the strongest women’s featherweight division in MMA.
“Cyborg” joins Bellator following a three-year run in UFC, multiple world titles and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith. Notably, the 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native was the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, defeating Gina Carano for the title in 2009.
“I have worked with countless athletes over my thirty-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like ‘Cyborg’,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. ‘Cyborg’ is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”
Former UFC stars Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga will go toe-to-toe in a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) heavyweight attraction that headlines BKFC 8 on Saturday, October 19 live on pay-per-view from Florida State Fairgrounds Entertainment Hall in Tampa, Fla.
The event begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will be broadcast across the United States and Canada, exclusively on pay-per-view through MultiVision Media, Inc., on all major television distribution outlets for $29.99. It will also be available to BKFC’s international broadcast partners worldwide and via stream to all in-home and out-of-home connected devices through FITE.
“I am very excited to have these two legends competing in the BKFC squared circle,” said BKFC Founder and President David Feldman. “They have fought and beat some of the best fighters in the world and now they will fight each other. Tampa is a great fight market and we are thrilled to be able to host another event there. The fans in Tampa love BKFC and we plan on giving them another great show.”
“It’s a great honor for me to fight for a great new company like BKFC,” said Silva. “They are doing everything right and this is a great opportunity for me to showcase my boxing. Fighting with bare knuckles is where it all started for me. I will be ready for Gonzaga, so he better be ready for me. I’m fighting for my children and nothing will stop me.”
“I have fought everywhere in the world, in the biggest organizations, and bare knuckle is exciting, pure and it’s where it all started,” said Gonzaga. “I am excited to have the second half of my career fighting for BKFC. I have no doubt I made a great choice and BKFC will be one of the biggest promotions in the world. I can’t wait to fight ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. He is a great fighter, but I am coming ready to win.”
Fighting out of his native Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil, Silva was a veteran of the UFC heavyweight division, having picked up victories over Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne, while also beating Fedor Emelianenko and Ricco Rodriguez on other MMA promotions on his way to compiling a 19-12 professional MMA record. Silva has won heavyweight titles for EliteXC, Cage Rage and Cage Warriors and has faced top fighters including Daniel Cormier, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum
Originally from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and now fighting out of Ludlow, Massachusetts, Gonzaga had a long and successful UFC run that began with wins in his first four UFC bouts. After losses to Randy Coutoure and Fabricio Werdum, Gonzaga stuck for years as a solid contender at heavyweight. He fell in bouts against Stipe Miocic, Matt Mitrione and Junior Dos Santos, but still compiled an overall MMA record of 17-12.
Bellator will hold the first-ever MMA event at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Saturday, August 24 when the always-exciting Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) once again squares off against Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC) in a heavyweight headline
The remainder of the main card features four other must-see bouts, including two additional heavyweight slugfests, as former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov (21-1) faces Javy Ayala (11-7) in the co-main event, while undefeated heavyweight prospects Tyrell Fortune (6-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC), who both originally hail from Portland, Ore., collide in the main card opener.
Rounding out the five-fight card on Paramount Network – the man with the most appearances inside the Bellator Cage in history, David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC), takes on the undefeated Ukrainian Yaroslav Amosov (21-0) in a 175-pound catchweight bout, and former flyweight title contender Alejandra Lara (7-3) meetsTaylor Turner (4-5) at bantamweight, who returns after recently upsetting Heather Hardy at Madison Square Garden earlier this summer.
The main card can be seen live on Paramount Network and DAZN at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com, DAZN and globally on the Bellator Mobile App beginning at 5:45 pm EST/2:45 pm PST.
Earlier in the evening, Connecticut’s own “Notorious” Nick Newell (15-2) will lace up the Bellator gloves for the first time in his career and make the short drive from his home in Milford, Conn. to Webster Bank Arena, when he meets Corey Browning (5-2), a man who has already defeated “Baby Slice” and Aaron Chalmers. Also representing the “The Constitution State,” the surging Mike “The Savage” Kimbel (3-1) will be looking to impress the partisan crowd against Chris Disonell (3-3).
Preliminary action is highlighted by appearances from top Bellator prospects, including Royce Gracie’s eldest son Khonry Gracie (1-1), Israel’s Aviv Gozali (2-0) and the promotional debut of light heavyweight Grant “The Truth” Neal (1-0). Plus, long-time UFC and TUF veteran Sabah Homasi (12-8) returns to the Bellator Cage for the first time since Bellator 124.
Also on the card, unbeaten Austin “The Gentleman” Vanderford (7-0) will make his middleweight debut against Georgia’s Joseph Creer (6-0-1), New Jersey’sRicky Bandejas (11-3) will return to action for the first time since relocating to American Top Team in Florida, when he competes at bantamweight against Virginia’s Ahmet Kayretli (8-3, 1 NC) and the always-exciting Tim Johnson (12-5) will make his sophomore Bellator appearance against recently signed Azunna Anyanwu (15-5) of Philadelphia in a heavyweight matchup.
Complete Bellator 225: Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2 Fight Card:
Heavyweight Main Event: Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC)
Heavyweight Co-Main Event: Vitaly Minakov (21-1) vs. Javy Ayala (11-7)
Bantamweight Feature Bout: Alejandra Lara (7-3) vs. Taylor Turner (4-5)
175-Pound Catchweight Feature Bout: David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (21-0)
Heavyweight Feature Bout: Tyrell Fortune (6-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Khonry Gracie (1-1) vs. Oscar Vera (0-1)
165-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Aviv Gozali (2-0) vs. Eduard Muravitskiy (9-8)
Light Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Grant Neal (1-0) vs. Alpha Toure (Pro Debut)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Sabah Homasi (12-8) vs. Micah Terrill (14-7, 1 NC)
Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Austin Vanderford (7-0) vs. Joseph Creer (6-0-1)
Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Tim Johnson (12-5) vs. Azunna Anyanwu (15-5)
Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Ricky Bandejas (11-3) vs. Ahmet Kayretli (8-3, 1 NC)
140-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Mike Kimbel (3-1) vs. Chris Disonell (3-3)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Nick Newell (15-2) vs. Corey Browning (5-2)
165-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Kastriot Xhema (3-3, 1 NC) vs. Connor Dixon (Pro Debut)
175-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jon Manley (11-6) vs. Thiago Rela (10-7)
Bellator will hold the first-ever MMA event at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Saturday, August 24 when Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) squares off against Sergei Kharitonov (28-6, 2 NC) in a heavyweight headliner.
Just six months after the pair of heavyweight sluggers first met, the rematch will take place just 75 miles south of Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. The card will be overseen by the Connecticut Boxing Commission.
Hailing from Indianapolis, Matt Mitrione will once again lace up the gloves in a main event against Kharitonov after an inadvertent shot put an abrupt end to their first matchup at Bellator 215 this past February. The former Purdue University and New York Giant football standout is fresh off a strong run in Bellator’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix, where the knockout artist advanced all the way to the semifinal round after defeating Roy Nelson. With victories in four of his last five contests, including a highlight-reel first round knockout of Fedor Emelianenko, Mitrione will now focus on writing the second chapter of his story with Kharitonov.
Riding a seven-fight unbeaten streak, including four first-round finishes and three knockouts, Sergei “The Paratrooper” Kharitonov returns to the U.S. after an unfortunate end to the pair’s first meeting. Now, the Moscow-native will seek to add another name to his list of victories amassed in well-known promotions around the globe, such as Pride and Strikeforce, and against equally dominant fighters, including Roy Nelson, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Alistair Overeem.
A total of 15 bouts for the anticipated Bellator 221: Chandler vs. Pitbull have been confirmed, as Bellator MMA returns to the “Windy City” and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. this Saturday, May 11 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT for an event streamed exclusively on DAZN.
The star-studded card is headlined by a lightweight world championship bout pitting current 155-pound titleholder Michael Chandler (19-4) against Bellator featherweight world champPatricio “Pitbull” (28-4) in a heated grudge match, as Chandler attempts to become the first fighter ever to defeat both Pitbull Brothers, while Patricio attempts to become a rare simultaneous two-division champion.
In addition, the co-main event features former two-time Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima (30-7) and undefeated British phenom Michael “Venom” Page (14-0) in a Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix semi-final matchup that carries them into the finals and a chance at a hefty one million dollar bonus for the tournament winner.
Bellator 221: Chandler vs. Pitbull will stream live exclusively on DAZN, the fastest-growing sports streaming service in the world, at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and globally on the Bellator Mobile App at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. Limited tickets remain available at the Allstate Arena box office, as well as Ticketmaster.com and Bellator.com.
Also competing on the main card is top featherweight prospect A.J. McKee (13-0), as he prepares to face the promotion’s former 145-pound champion Pat Curran (23-7) on the Crystal Lake, Illinois-fighter’s home turf. Also, former WWE champion Jake Hager (1-0), previously known as “Jack Swagger,” is set to make his second Bellator appearance, as he looks to build on his early dominance when he meets T.J. Jones (1-1). Rounding out the main card will be the always-entertaining Tywan Claxton (4-0), who looks to remain undefeated against James Bennett (4-1) of Milwaukee.
Preliminary action for Bellator 221: Chandler vs. Pitbull begins at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT and will see a featherweight contest that pits Chicago’s Adil Benjilany (5-1, 1 NC) against submission specialist Cris Lencioni (4-2), as well as the promotional debut of Greco-Roman wrestling prospect Chris Gonzalez (1-0).
Complete Bellator 221: Chandler vs. Pitbull Main Card:
Lightweight World Title Bout: Michael Chandler (19-4) vs. Patricio “Pitbull” (28-4)
Welterweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final: Douglas Lima (30-7) vs. Michael “Venom” Page (14-0)
Featherweight Main Card Bout: A.J. McKee (13-0) vs. Pat Curran (23-7)
Heavyweight Main Card Bout: Jake Hager (1-0) vs. T.J. Jones (1-1)
Featherweight Main Card Bout: Tywan Claxton (4-0) vs. James Bennett (4-1)
Featherweight Undercard Bout: Adil Benjilany (5-1, 1 NC) vs. Cris Lencioni (4-2)
Lightweight Undercard Bout: Chris Gonzalez (1-0) vs. Charlie Radtke (2-1)
Bantamtweight Undercard Bout: Bryan Bautista (1-0) vs. Rob Fenicle (1-0)
Lightweight Undercard Bout: Adam Ward (18-11) vs. Amartuvshin Khuukhenkhuu (9-4)
Bantamweight Undercard Bout: Jose Leon (Pro Debut) vs. Christian Rodriguez (Pro Debut)
Bantamweight Undercard Bout: Askar Askar (9-0) vs. Taylor Moore (9-4)
Light Heavyweight Undercard Bout: James Bochnovic (9-4) vs. Robert Morrow (28-24-1, 1 NC)
Heavyweight Undercard Bout: Dave Latoria (Pro Debut) vs. Jason Belyew (0-1)
Featherweight Undercard Bout: Joey Diehl (12-9) vs. Jesse Bazzi (9-6)
Welterweight Undercard Bout: Scott Writz (2-0) vs. Josh Streacker (5-2)
Two title fights are confirmed for Bellator’s return to Madison Square Garden on Friday, June 14 – an event to be streamed exclusively on DAZN.
Bellator 222: Machida vs. Sonnen will see current Bellator welterweight world champion Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) put his title on the line in the semi-finals of the Welterweight World Grand Prix against the unbeaten Renzo Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Neiman Gracie (9-0). In addition, Darrion Caldwell (13-2) will defend his Bellator bantamweight world title against Rizin Fighting Federation’s bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (27-2) in a true “champion vs. champion” matchup, following a Horiguchi submission victory when the two met in Rizin’s ring this past December.
The event also includes two of the sport’s biggest names in Lyoto Machida (25-8) and Chael Sonnen (31-16-1) headlining the card in a light heavyeight bout, who will finally meet after years of parallel MMA careers. Additionally, a 175-pound catchweight contest between polarizing grappling ace Dillon Danis (1-0) and Max Humphrey (3-2) is scheduled, while Heather Hardy (2-1), fresh off two boxing wins in 2018 to remain undefeated at 22-0, is ready to return to the site of her mixed martial arts debut and bring her exciting style back to the Bellator cage against a soon-to-be-announced opponent.
Caldwell, a 31-year-old Rahway, N.J.-native and the current Bellator bantamweight champion, has emerged as one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world, collecting 10 victories since signing with Bellator in 2013. The 2009 NCAA D-1 National Champion wrestler from NC State boasts a resume that includes five first-round finishes, a 25-minute war against Eduardo Dantas to claim the world title and a textbook guillotine choke submission victory over Leandro Higo in his first career title defense last year. Caldwell will look to avenge his submission loss when he enters the cage against Kyoji Horiguchi in June at MSG.
Bellator welterweight world champion Rory MacDonald shared these words about his upcoming bout:
“I want to take the time to thank everybody who had the chance to see my fight last weekend and share that candid moment I had in the Bellator cage with John McCarthy.
“I felt an internal struggle during the fight I never experienced before. I have always enjoyed my time in the cage by expressing my techniques in full out combat against another top-level fighter, but this time I wasn’t enjoying it. It felt more like a job than the satisfaction I am used to feeling by being dominant and applying what I have practiced to defeat someone.”
“Even during my dominant moments, I felt I was completing a task and these feelings were a bit confusing to me because it’s new. I used to fight with anger I held within myself from pain I had experienced in my past. To be honest, I believe this comes from my heart changing as I’m walking a new life as a Christian. The Lord has given me peace and freedom from the pain that haunted me in my heart from my younger years. I would only satisfy myself for a short period of time from winning fights until the feeling would resonate in me again. So, now I don’t feel the same emotions I have in the past while competing.
“I still and will always have a passion for martial arts and do not believe, as a Christian, that it’s wrong for myself to compete in a professional sport that is violent. In fact, I’m happy to testify about being a Christian on this platform I’ve been given.
“To be clear, I am not retiring from my professional MMA career, I’ve always been true and honest in the sport and I spoke from the heart.
“As for my career at the moment. I am going to move forward in this tournament and compete boldly against Neiman Gracie in New York at MSG on June 14.
“Thank you for your support and all the kind messages I’ve received after this sentimental moment I had for all to see after 14 years of being in this sport.”
Neiman Gracie has laced up the Bellator gloves seven times in his nine-fight professional career, but no victory has been as impressive as his most recent win against Ed Ruth in the opening round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. With the submission win over Ruth, the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt has now submitted opponents in five straight contests, including a submission win over Dave Marfone that took place during Bellator’s inaugural event at MSG, Bellator NYC. Now, with championship gold on the line, Gracie looks to keep his streak alive and take home the upset victory in his hometown.
Bellator 216: MVP vs. Daley takes place tomorrow Saturday, February 16, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The event will air live on DAZN at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Complete Bellator 216 Weigh-in Results:
Welterweight World Grand Prix Matchup: Michael Page (170) vs. Paul Daley (170)
Heavyweight Co-Main Event: Mirko Cro Cop (234.5) vs. Roy Nelson (259.5)
Heavyweight Main Card Bout: Cheick Kongo (236) vs. Vitaly Minakov (240.5)
Welterweight Main Card Bout: Yaroslav Amasov (169.75) vs. Erick Silva (170)
Women’s Flyweight Main Card Bout: Valerie Loureda (123.5) vs. Colby Fletcher (122.25)
Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Tyrell Fortune (246.25) vs. Ryan Pokryfky (250)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Patrick Casey (155.75) vs. Nekruz Mirkhojaev (154)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius De Jesus (171) vs. Rodolpho Barcellos (169.5)
165-Pound Catchweight Bout: Kemran Lachinov (166) vs. Kastriot Xhema (165)
Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Reginaldo Felix (185) vs. Justin Sumter (185.5)
Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Jesse Kosakowski (168) vs. Rodolfo Rocha (170.5)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Demetrius Plaza (169.5) vs. Andrews Rodriguez (169.5)