Bellator MMA has made a tradition of hosting back-to-back cards in Hawaii, a state long overlooked despite its deep history of producing high-level martial artists.
2023 will be no exception, as promotion officials announced on Wednesday that Bellator 294 and Bellator 295 will take place on April 21 and 22, respectively.
Both shows will emanate from Honolulu’s Neal S. Blaisdell Arena.
The first event of the pair, Bellator 294, will be headlined by a women’s flyweight title fight. That match-up will see champion Liz Carmouche (18-7) putting her belt on the line against former Ultimate Fighter athlete DeAnna Bennett (13-7-1).
Carmouche recently defended her title in an immediate rematch with Juliana Velasquez, whom the “Girl-Rilla” defeated to capture her first major championship. Carmouche has won five straight, and has not lost since a failed title bid against Valentina Shevchenko in the UFC.
Bennett has won three straight, defeating former title challenger Alejandra Lara, then twice getting her hand raised against ex-UFC fighter Justine Kish.
The April 21 card will see Tim Johnson face Said Sowma in a heavyweight co-main event. Also in action will be Sara McMann, making her promotional debut in a women’s featherweight showdown with Arlene Blencowe.
Bellator 295, meanwhile, will be topped by the conclusion of the Bellator bantamweight grand prix. The much-anticipated tournament final sees Raufeon Stots (19-1) take on Patchy Mix, with Stots’ interim title on the line — plus a million dollars in prize money.
Stots is fresh off a semifinal win over Danny Sabatello, while Mix (17-1) will look to make up for a failed shot at gold a few years back against Juan Archuleta. Mix defeated Magomed Magomedov in the semifinal round.
Also announced for Bellator 295, former women’s flyweight champ and Hawaii’s own Ilima-Lei Macfarlane will face off with #2-ranked Kana Watanabe. Macfarlane currently sits ranked #3 in the weight class. The following match-ups are also lined up for April 22:
- Davion Franklin vs. Kasim Aras
- Yancy Medeiros vs. Charlie Leary
- Bobby King vs. Aalon Cruz
- Keoni Diggs vs. Weber Almeida
- Kai Kamaka III vs. Adli Edwards
- Sumiko Inaba vs. Veta Arteaga