Mixed martial arts has had a small number of standout fighters who have won championships in two weight classes. Bellator MMA soon might have the first three-division champ in a major fight promotion.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who reigns at featherweight and vacated the lightweight title in 2021, will go for a third belt when he takes on bantamweight champ Sergio Pettis at Bellator 297 on June 16 in Chicago, the promotion announced Monday.
The bout at Wintrust Arena will serve as the co-main event of another newly announced title fight, in which light heavyweight champ Vadim Nemkov will defend against Yoel Romero. Those two originally were slated to meet in February, but Nemkov withdrew for an undisclosed reason.
The bantamweight title bout will be Pettis’ second defense of a championship he won in 2021. He has won five fights in a row, a run extending back to his time with the UFC, but has not competed since December 2021 because of injury.
Freire, who already is arguably the most accomplished fighter in Bellator history, has won three in a row and 10 of his past 11.
The Pettis-Freire winner is expected to face the winner of the ongoing Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix. Interim champ Raufeon Stots and Patchy Mix will meet in the tournament final April 22.
Nemkov is unbeaten in his past 11 fights, most recently winning a decision over Corey Anderson in November for his third successful title defense.
Romero, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist in wrestling who in 2020 challenged for the UFC middleweight belt, has won two in row, both by knockout. He will be 46 years old on fight night.