Bellator MMA is headed back to the Hawaiian islands for a double header this April.
On Tuesday, KHON2 was first to report that the promotion would host events on back-to-back nights on April 22 and 23, 2022. The cards, Bellator 278 and Bellator 279, will feature opening round action from the bantamweight grand prix, as well as the next title defense from women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
Cageside Press confirmed the news with a source familiar with the situation following KHON2’s initial report.
While no fights have been reported for the Bellator 278 card, a four-pack of notable match-ups are on tap for Bellator 279 on April 23. That includes Cyborg (25-2, 1NC) defending her title for the second time against Australia’s Arlene Blencowe (15-8).
The pair first met in 2020, with Cyborg winning via rear-naked choke. Since that time, Blencowe has gone on to secure wins against Dayana Silva and Pam Sorenson. Cyborg, meanwhile, defended her title against Leslie Smith and Sinead Kavanagh.
Speaking of the latter, Kavanagh had been announced as the next candidate for Cyborg following Bellator 275 in Ireland. However, the Irish fighter suffered an apparent injury in her fight against Leah McCourt, which could have her on the shelf for a bit.
Also on the Bellator 279 card, teammates Sergio Pettis (22-5) and Raufeon Stots (17-1) will meet in the opening round of the bantamweight grand prix. Pettis won the promotion’s 135lb title last year against Juan Archuleta, and secured his first title defense against Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272 this past December, in a Comeback of the Year-winning effort.
Former women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) will return to action as well on April 23. She’s been paired up with Justine Kish (7-5), who made her promotional debut in a losing effort against DeAnna Bennett just a few weeks back.
Macfarlane has not competed since a December 2020 loss to Julianna Velaquez, which cost the Hawaiian her 125lb title. Bellator 279 will mark the third time “The Illiminator” has competed in her home state for the promotion.
Finally, Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4) will face Patchy Mix (15-1) in another bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal.
Both cards will air live on Showtime, with tickets going on sale Friday via Ticketmaster for Bellator 279. Bellator 278 will be dedicated for military members and first responders, with details on ticket distribution expected to be announced at a later date.