LOS ANGELES – After a night to remember in Paris, France, Fabian Edwards (12-2) surpassed MMA legend Gegard Mousasi (49-9-2) to become BELLATOR’s No. 1-ranked middleweight contender thanks to a dominant, star-making unanimous decision victory. The win, Edwards’ third straight, cemented a September 23 showdown in Dublin, Ireland with Middleweight World Champion Johnny Eblen (13-0), who jumped two spaces in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings in this iteration of the independently-organized list this week.
In the co-main event, former Lightweight World Champion Brent Primus (12-3) proved he belongs right in the thick of things in the $1,000,000 Lightweight World Grand Prix, handing fast-rising local star Mansour Barnaoui (20-5), who dropped to No. 9 in the division, his first BELLATOR loss. Primus remained ranked No. 4 in the division and moves on to face Lightweight World Champion and pound-for-pound No. 6 talent Usman Nurmagomedov (17-0) in the semi-final round of the tournament.
Elsewhere on the BELLATOR 296 card, Dutch flyweight contender Denise Kielholtz (7-5) earned her way back into the women’s pound-for-pound rankings at No. 10 with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Brazil’s Paulina Cristina (6-2). Plus, former Welterweight World Champion Douglas Lima (33-11) returned to the win column and entered the middleweight rankings at No. 9 with a statement victory against Costello van Steenis (14-3), who lost his spot among the division’s upper echelon.
On June 16, BELLATOR touches down again in Chicago, Illinois, for a history-making event headlined by a Light Heavyweight World Championship between the sport’s top 205-pound fighter, Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov (16-2), and fearsome Olympic silver medalist-turned-knockout artist Yoel Romero (15-6). In the blockbuster show’s co-main event, reigning Featherweight World Champion Patricio Pitbull (35-5) will look to enter the recordbooks as the first fighter in a major MMA promotion to hold titles in three weight classes when he welcomes back Bantamweight World Champion Sergio Pettis (22-5) for the pride of Milwaukee’s 135-pound title.
BELLATOR 297: Nemkov vs. Romero airs LIVE in the U.S. at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT/6 p.m. PT on SHOWTIME. The preliminary contests will air live at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel, and Pluto TV.
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Updated schedule of BELLATOR events - click links for updated fight cards
Fri. June 16 // BELLATOR 297: Nemkov vs. Romero // Wintrust Arena // Chicago, ILL
Sat. Sept. 23 // BELLATOR Dublin: Eblen vs. Edwards // 3Arena // Dublin, IRE
BELLATOR MMA is a leading global mixed martial arts organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, BELLATOR events take place in major cities worldwide and can be seen on television in over 160 countries to an available audience of over one billion people. In the United States, BELLATOR can be seen on SHOWTIME. BELLATOR is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity, and commission relations. BELLATOR is based in Hollywood, Calif. and owned by entertainment giant Paramount, home to the world's premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.