Bellator is set to return to Chicago with a card headlined by a pair of world championship bouts. Bellator 297 is set to take place at Wintrust Arena on June 16. In the main event, Vadim Nemkov will put his light heavyweight championship on the line against Yoel Romero, while the co-main event sees the best fighter in Bellator history, Patricio Pitbull, going for a world title in a third weight class when he challenges bantamweight champ Sergio Pettis. The promotion announced the pair of fights on Monday.
In his most recent fight, Nemkov set the record for most defenses of the Bellator light heavyweight title with his third. The win, a decision over Corey Anderson, also won Nemkov the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix. He has held the title since knocking out Ryan Bader with a head kick in August 2020.
Romero was originally set to challenge Nemkov for the title at Bellator 290 in February, but Nemkov was forced to withdraw from the fight. After a four-fight losing skid from June 2018 to September 2021, Romero has rattled off two straight wins in the Bellator cage. His most recent outing was a knockout win over Melvin Manhoef this past September.
Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.
The co-main event is a chance for Pitbull to make history as the current featherweight champion heads down a division to face off with Pettis. Pitbull is on his third reign as featherweight champion and previously held the lightweight title before vacating it to afford his brother, Patricky, the chance to fight for the belt. Pitbull avenged a loss to AJ McKee to regain the featherweight title in April 2022 and has since twice successfully defended the title.
Pettis won the bantamweight title in May 2021 and made a successful defense with a dramatic spinning backfist knockout of Kyoji Horiguchi that December. He was set to take part in the Bantamweight World Grand Prix before being forced to withdraw due to injury. He is currently riding a five-fight winning streak and has won all four of his fights in the Bellator cage.
The winner of Pettis vs. Pitbull will be set to fight the winner of the Grand Prix finals. That fight, between Patchy Mix and interim champion Raufeon Stots, is set to take place at Bellator 295 on April 22.