Bellator Returns to Chicago in June with Two Title Fights


Bellator MMA in Chicago on 6.16.23

Bellator returns to Chicago on June 16. Here is the press release.

LOS ANGELES – BELLATOR MMA will bring not one, but two world championship contests to “The Windy City” Friday, June 16 when the promotion returns to Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

The main event will see the BELLATOR Light Heavyweight World Champion and No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter Vadim Nemkov (16-2, 1 NC) defend his title against No. 3-ranked light heavyweight and Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero (15-6), in a bout that was originally slated for BELLATOR 290.

The co-headliner will feature 30-fight BELLATOR MMA veteran, current BELLATOR Featherweight World Champion and No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter Patricio “Pitbull” (35-5) moving down a weight class to challenge incumbent 135-pound champion and No. 8-ranked pound-for-pound athlete Sergio Pettis (22-5) in a BELLATOR “Super Fight” for bantamweight gold.

These two massive bouts anchor the main card of BELLATOR 297: Nemkov vs. Romero / Pettis vs. Pitbull, an event that airs LIVE in the U.S. at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT/6 p.m. PT on SHOWTIME.

Tickets for this MMA spectacle can be purchased beginning this Thursday, March 30 through a special presale on, while the general on-sale begins one day later on Friday, March 31 at

Headlining BELLATOR’s remarkable return to Chicago is the world’s top 205-pound fighter and reigning world champion Nemkov who meets MMA superstar Romero in a blockbuster fight combat sports fans have been clamoring for since Romero’s arrival in BELLATOR. Nemkov, 30, proved himself the best fighter in the weight class with his resounding victory over top-ranked Corey Anderson at BELLATOR 288 last November. The title defense also saw Nemkov emerge victorious as the winner of the prestigious BELLATOR Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix in a run that also saw him best former champion Phil Davis and No. 6-ranked Julius Anglickas.

Combat sports’ star Yoel Romero has entertained fight fans for close to three decades, first as a world-renowned amateur wrestler and now as an elite mixed martial artist. The 2000 Olympic silver medalist and 1999 World Champion will look to add a mixed martial arts world championship to his overflowing trophy case with a win over Nemkov. BELLATOR’s No. 3-ranked contender, Romero scored back-to-back third-round knockout victories against highly regarded prospect Alex Polizzi and fellow combat legend Melvin Manhoef to add to his jaw-dropping highlight reel and secure a coveted title shot against the surging Nemkov. “The Soldier of God” brings an explosive offense and unrivaled wrestling arsenal to this can’t-miss title fight, ensuring a difficult test for the Russian champion.

BELLATOR’s No. 1 Pound-for-Pound athlete and undisputed Featherweight World Champion, Patricio Pitbull, is once again chasing history at BELLATOR 297 as he attempts to become the first three-division champion in a major MMA promotion. A few men and women have been able to conquer two weight classes, including Pitbull — who knocked out Michael Chandler at BELLATOR 221 in 2019 to become Lightweight World Champion as the reigning featherweight title holder — The 35-year-old face of BELLATOR will drop down to bantamweight to challenge Sergio Pettis, who returns from an injury-induced layoff, in one of the most highly anticipated title fights in BELLATOR MMA history. Pitbull looks to build upon his incredible momentum, which has seen him win ten of his last eleven fights including wins over RIZIN Featherweight Champion Kleber Koike and archrival AJ McKee. Against Pettis, Pitbull aims to once again prove that his status as Pound-for-Pound king is more than a rankings-bestowed title: it’s the truth.

The fight is equally important for Sergio Pettis, who defends his title against the legacy-oriented Pitbull in his first fight since December of 2021. Fight fans have anxiously awaited the return of one half of one of MMA’s greatest sibling duos following Pettis’ BELLATOR 272 “Knockout of the Year” spinning backfist of former BELLATOR Champion Kyoji Horiguchi. A winner of five straight fights, the 29-year-old Roufusport product will return to action against Pitbull on June 16 keen to deny the Brazilian’s claim for history and remind the bantamweight division who rules the weight class. With a win, Pettis would score his second title defense and set up a showdown with the eventual winner of the BELLATOR Bantamweight World Grand Prix Finals between Interim Bantamweight World Champion Raufeon Stots and submission ace Patchy Mix, which takes place at BELLATOR 295 in Hawaii on April 22. “The Phenom” will look to remain unbeaten in BELLATOR in this can’t-miss title fight destined for the history-books.

Additional bouts, including a full preliminary card, will be announced soon.

Friday, June 16 — 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. PT

Light Heavyweight World Title Bout: C-Vadim Nemkov (16-2, 1 NC) vs. #3-Yoel Romero (15-6)
Bantamweight World Title Bout: C-Sergio Pettis (22-5) vs. C-Patricio “Pitbull” (35-5)

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is the former play-by-play announcer for the XFO and other organizations, and he has been published by, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided, and more.

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