Bellator is bringing a stacked card to Chicago this summer.
After a successful event at the Wintrust Arena in late 2022, the promotion will return to the venue for Bellator 297 on June 16, according to sources. And Bellator is bringing a stacked card with two title fights to the Windy City.
Headlining the event is a light heavyweight title fight between the champion Vadim Nemkov and Yoel Romero, per sources. And in the co-main event, bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis will put his belt on the line against current featherweight champion Patrício ‘Pitbull’ Freire.
For Pitbull it’s a chance to make history in the city he etched his name in the record books before. In 2019, Pitbull was the reigning featherweight champion and defeated Michael Chandler for the lightweight world title at Bellator 221, which was held at the All State Arena in Rosemont.
Now Pitbull returns to Chicago this summer looking to win a title in a record third weight class. Pittbull would be the first ever three-division champion in a major MMA promotion.
It’s a close to home fight for Pettis, who is from and trains in Milwaukee.
Raufeon Stots is the reigning interim bantamweight champion and slated to fight Patchy Mix in the main event of Bellator 295 in April, which is the final of the Bantamweight World Grand Prix Tournament.
Pettis was scheduled to fight Stots in the first round of the Grand Prix, but pulled out due to an injury that required surgery. Pettis would presumably face the winner of the Stots-Mix bout to unify the bantamweight title bouts with a win.
For Nemkov it’s also a return to Chicago and the Winstrust Arena. Nemkov defeated Chicagoland native Corey Anderson at Bellator 288 to retain his light heavyweight title. That win broke the record for most title defenses in Bellator light heavyweight history with three.
Romero has also been slated to fight for a world title in Chicago before. If Romero wins, it would be his first MMA title. He has lost three title fights, and the one scheduled title fight Romero won, he was ineligible for the title because he missed weight. All four of those tile fights occurred at middleweight, 20 pounds lighter than this light heavyweight title fight.
Romero is currently on a two-fight win streak in Bellator’s light heavyweight division, most recently defeating Mevlin Manhoef y knockout in September 2022.
Bellator 297 joins a list of marquee events coming to Chicago this summer, like the inaugural NASCAR street race in downtown Chicago.