Bellator announced to ESPN its upcoming tentpole event, which is set to take place May 11 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The card features a number of exciting matchups, and I’ll list them below along with my initial thoughts in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Michael Chandler vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, Bellator 221
The main event of Bellator 221 will be a five-round superfight between Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Bellator featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Chandler’s belt will be up for grabs in this one as Pitbull is moving up in weight for a fight that will determine arguably the greatest fighter in Bellator history. Chandler (19-4) is 16-4 in Bellator and just won back the lightweight title from Brent Primus in his last fight. He’s won seven of his last eight fights overall and with a win here over Pitbull would solidify himself as the promotion’s greatest home-grown talent ever. Pitbull (28-4) is also 16-4 in Bellator and is coming off of back-to-back featherweight title defenses over Emmanuel Sanchez and Daniel Wiechel. What a great fight between two amazing fights. Chandler will likely be favored here as he’s the bigger fighter, but Pitbull is a stud and shouldn’t be counted out. Depending on the line, Pitbull could be worth a look as a dog.
Pat Curran vs. AJ McKee, Bellator 221
Former Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran will return to the cage when he takes on rising star AJ McKee. Curran (23-7) is 13-4 overall in Bellator and is one of the top fighters to ever fight for the promotion. He’s actually riding a three-fight win streak right now, though he hasn’t fought since an October 2017 decision win over John Teixeira. McKee (13-0) made his Bellator and pro MMA debut in October 2015 and hasn’t looked back since as he’s undefeated and has buzzsawed through every opponent that Bellator has put his way. Curran is a solid gatekeeper at this point of his career, but McKee is a real stud and I fully expect him to win this fight. There’s no doubt the undefeated rising star is going to be a huge favorite here.
Douglas Lima vs. winner of Paul Daley/Michael Page, Bellator 221
The semifinals of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix will take place on this card featuring Douglas Lima against the winner of this weekend’s Paul Daley vs. Michael Page fight. There’s not much to say about this yet as he don’t know the matchup, but Lima vs. either of those guys makes for an awesome fight.
Jake Hager vs. TBA, Bellator 221
And finally, Jake Hager will return to the cage for his second MMA fight against a yet-to-be-named opponent. Hager (1-0) submitted JW Kiser in his Bellator and MMA debut. He looks like a very intriguing heavyweight prospect considering his size and strength, though I’d expect Bellator to give him another “can” for his next fight as they continue to slow-build him. I have no doubt Bellator will be able to find another Kiser clone and pay them a few thousand bucks to get finished by Hager.