Bellator MMA will host two big back-to-back cards this September, featuring a handful of anticipated debuts, a bantamweight title fight, a light heavyweight rematch and more.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Cageside Press that Bellator will head back to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on September 11 and 12, for what is expected to be Bellator 245 and Bellator 246. The weekend stint will see the Friday show headlined by Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis, in a rematch of their 2013 meeting in the UFC. That card will also feature the debut of former UFC bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano.
The Saturday show, on September 12, will be headlined by a bantamweight title fight between Juan Archuleta and Patrick “Patchy” Mix. As well, Jon Fitch will take on Neiman Gracie in a grappling fan’s dream contest, and Liz Carmouche will make her promotional debut against Invicta FC and Ultimate Fighter alum DeAnna Bennett. Bennett will also be making her promotional debut.
ESPN was first to report news of the bookings.
Davis (21-5, 1NC) and Machida (26-9) faced off at UFC 163 in 2013, with Davis coming away with the unanimous decision win. Since then, both have found their way to Bellator, where “Mr. Wonderful” won the light heavyweight grand prix in 2015, and the light heavyweight title the following year.
However, Davis lost the belt to Ryan Bader in 2017, in his first attempted title defense. Bader has held that belt ever since. Machida joined the promotion in 2018, meanwhile, winning his first two fights against Rafael Carvalho and Chael Sonnen before suffering his first loss in the organization last year, against Gegard Mousasi.
The Mousasi fight, though, came at middleweight. Now, it’s back to 205lbs for Machida. The fight comes in the wake of Bader’s title defense this weekend against Vadim Nemkov.
For Zingano, it’s a long-awaited debut. “Alpha” last fought at UFC 232 in December 2018, where she suffered a TKO loss due to an eye injury incurred by a toe poke from Megan Anderson. The now-38 year old signed with Bellator in October of last year. Zingano holds key wins over Amanda Nunes and Miesha Tate from earlier in her UFC career.
At Bellator 245, she’ll take on Gabby Holloway (6-5), who last competed in 2017, picking up a win over Alexis Dufresne at Bellator 174.
The following night, Juan Archuleta (24-2) and Patrick Mix (13-0) will meet, with the promotion’s vacant 135lb title on the line. That title has not been held since Kyoji Horiguchi vacated the belt last November, after being unable to defend it due to injury.
Former UFC bantamweight and flyweight title challenger Liz Carmouche (13-7) will also make her debut that night, in Bellator’s flyweight division. Carmouche last fought in August 2019, losing a title shot against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC Uruguay. She was later released from the promotion, and signed on with Bellator. A debut date for Carmouche had been announced for earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that.
Her opponent, DeAnna Bennett (10-6-1) had a single fight in the UFC after appearing on The Ultimate Fighter. A longtime Invicta FC athlete, she holds notable wins over current UFC title challenger Jennifer Maia, Miranda Maverick, and Karina Rodriguez. She also made it to the finals of Invicta FC’s Phoenix Series 2 flyweight tournament, only to lose to Maverick in the pair’s second meeting.
Also at Bellator 246, Jon Fitch (32-7-2, 1NC), who was last seen fighting to a draw with then-champ Rory MacDonald in Bellator’s welterweight grand prix, will face BJJ ace Neiman Gracie (9-1). Coincidentally, Gracie’s last fight, a loss, also came against MacDonald during the welterweight grand prix.