This Friday night Bellator MMA returns to the city of Chicago with two massive title fights. In the Main Event, Russian superstar and Current Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov takes on former UFC title challenger and Olympic Silver Medalist Yoel “the Soldier of God” Romero. In the Co-Main event, Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire moves down in weight to challenge for Sergio Pettis Bantamweight Championship. Freire is chasing history in this matchup and attempting to become the first three-weight world champion in major mixed martial arts history. In a potential title eliminator at 205 pounds Rockford’s Corey Anderson looks to get back in the win column against Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. Also on the Bellator 297 main card, Chicago’s own Daniel James continues his pursuit of a Heavyweight title opportunity when he faces the always-dangerous Gokhan Saricam.
(C) Vadim Nemkov (16-2) vs #3 Yoel Romero (15-6)
Bellator 297’s Main Event will feature two of the best fighters in the world at 205 pounds. Vadim Nemkov will attempt to defend his title for the fourth time this Friday when he faces Yoel Romero. Nemkov is undefeated (8-0) in his Bellator career and is the protégé of MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko. Romero is 46 years old but finished his last two opponents Alex Polizzi and Melvin Manhoef by devastating knockout. In his career, Romero has finished multiple UFC champions including Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, and Lyoto Machida. This will be a very intriguing stylistic matchup between a Combat Sambo world champion in Nemkov and an Olympic Silver Medalist in wrestling Yoel Romero.
Normally when you have two dominant grapplers the fight plays out on the feet. Nemkov has vastly improved his striking during his tenure with Bellator even pulling off a spinning wheel kick in his last fight against Corey Anderson. Romero may be in the later stages of his career but is still a powerful striker who possesses one-punch knockout power. Nemkov will enter this contest as a massive betting favorite (-550) at online sportsbooks.
Oddsmakers are favoring the youth and athleticism of Nemkov but Romero is always dangerous wherever the fight takes place. If victorious this weekend Romero will capture his first world championship in MMA after fighting for the UFC Middleweight title on three separate occasions. Nemkov is currently ranked as the number one Light Heavyweight on the planet by Sherdog and will add a huge name to his resume with a win this weekend.
(C) Sergio Pettis (22-5) vs (C) Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (35-5)
In the Co-Main Event of Bellator 297 Bantamweight Champion Sergio Pettis welcomes Patricio “Pitbull” Freire to the 135-pound division. Freire is the former Bellator Lightweight Champion and currently holds the promotions 145-pound title. If Freire wins this Friday night he will become the first three-weight world champion in the history of high-level MMA. Pettis is coming off a knockout victory over top Japanese fighter Kyoji Horiguchi but has not fought in 18 months. During Pettis extended layoff from the sport Bellator put together a Bantamweight World Grand Prix that Patchy Mix won. The winner of this fight will presumably face Mix in their next fight.
Both Pettis and “Pitbull” are dangerous strikers which makes this a potentially entertaining matchup for fight fans. “Pitbull” Freire is riding a three-fight win streak into this contest having defeated Bellator contender Adam Borics, Rizin FF Featherweight champion Kleber Koike, and Bellator superstar A.J. Mckee. This is an extremely close fight as oddsmakers have Freire as a slight (-205) favorite at online sportsbooks.
Pettis will enter this contest as a live underdog who betters may want to put money on. While Patricio “Pitbull” is unquestionably the greatest fighter in Bellator history, he is cutting a massive amount of weight to get to 135 pounds. Freire may be depleted come Friday night after a strenuous weight cut this week. Fight fans will want to tune into this Co-main event matchup as it has fight of the night written all over it.
#1 Corey Anderson (16-6) vs #2 Phil Davis (24-6)
In the featured fight of the Bellator 297 Main Card, Rockford native Corey Anderson will look to get back in the win column when he faces former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, Phil Davis. Anderson made it to the finals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix last year, before losing to current champion Vadim Nemkov. Davis has won five of his last six with his only loss also coming to Nemkov. During Davis winning streak he defeated impressive competitors like Yoel Romero, Lyoto Machida, and Julius Anglickas.
Both Davis and Romero are credentialed collegiate wrestlers. Anderson was a junior college national champion while Davis won a national title in division one at Penn State University. Davis is coming into this contest at the age of 38 while Anderson is five years younger at 33. This fight will more than likely be a title eliminator at 205 pounds with the winner setting themselves up for a potential rematch with Nemkov. Anderson will enter this contest as a slight betting favorite (-188) at online sportsbooks.
Bellator 297 Prelims:
The Bellator 297 prelims will feature a litany of compelling matchups. In a battle between top ten Light Heavyweights Ireland’s Karl Moore (11-2) faces Northwestern wrestling product Alex “Eazy” Polizzi (10-2). Moore is 3-0 in his short time with Bellator and holds victories over ranked contenders Karl Albrektsson and Maciej Rozanski. Also on the Bellator 297 prelims, Memphis, Tennessee’s Jaleel “The Realest” Willis (16-4) takes on undefeated Russian prospect Ramazan Kuramagomedov (10-0). Willis recently defeated ranked welterweight contender Kyle Crutchmer and will look to continue his winning ways this weekend.
Bellator 297 can be seen Friday Night on SHOWTIME with the prelims beginning at 5 p.m. CST and the Main card starting at 8 p.m. CT.
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