On June 16 in Chicago, Bellator 297 will feature two championship fights, including a champion versus champion showdown.
The main event features Vadim Nemkov defending his light heavyweight title against former UFC title challenger Yoel Romero, while Sergio Pettis makes his long-awaited comeback and welcomes Bellator featherweight king Patricio Pitbull to 135 pounds where they will battle and the bantamweight title is on the line.
After an original report from NBC Chicago, Bellator officials confirmed the information to MMA Fighting on Monday.
Yoel Romero will face off against current light heavyweight king Vadim Nemkov in the main event. After losing to Phil Davis by unanimous decision in his promotional debut in 2021, the former middleweight championship contender for the UFC has since made a turnaround.
“The Soldier of God” has won his last two fights, defeating Melvin Manhoef in the third round and Alex Polizzi via third-round TKO. The champion was forced to cancel the championship match, which was initially going to take place on the promotion’s network debut on CBS.
Since entering the promotion, Nemkov has gone undefeated. He most recently won the light heavyweight Grand Prix after defeating Corey Anderson by unanimous decision in the finals. Among his victories are a submission victory over Pedro Carvalho, two victories by decision over Phil Davis, and a TKO victory over the current heavyweight king Ryan Bader.
In the co-main event, Pettis will attempt to make his first championship defence since winning the belt in 2021 at bantamweight. With Patchy Mix and Raufeon Stots still vying for the interim title and a fight set for April 22 in the ongoing Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix, Pettis was forced to withdraw due to an injury.
Pettis has, overall, won his last five contests in a row, including three consecutive victories since joining the Bellator roster in free agency after a protracted tenure with the UFC.
Pitbull will have the chance to make Bellator history by winning titles in all three categories during the fight, which will also be a historic occasion for him. After defeating Michael Chandler by knockout to earn the Bellator lightweight championship in 2019, Pitbull still holds the featherweight championship.
Just over two years later, Pitbull finally gave up that title, but when he faces Pettis in June, he’ll now try to add the bantamweight crown to his résumé.
Freire hopes to win a championship with the promotion in a third weight class in what will be his Bellator bantamweight start. With the exception of the nine months following his defeat to A.J. McKee, Freire, a former lightweight champion, has held the title of featherweight king since 2017. Before more recent wins over Kleber Erbst and Adam Borics, Freire exacted revenge on his earlier loss in a rematch.
The Wintrust Arena, home to the Chicago Sky of the WNBA and the basketball teams of DePaul University, will host the event.
The Grand Prix championships victor will square off against Pettis vs. Pitbull’s victor. On April 22, Bellator 295 will host the match between Patchy Mix and interim king Raufeon Stots.
The Bellator 297 schedule now features the following:
- Yoel Romero will challenge champion Vadim Nemkov for the light heavyweight championship.
- Patricio Freire will challenge Sergio Pettis for the featherweight championship.