The finale of Bellator’s Featherweight Grand Prix between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee Jr. now has a location, as they are set to headline Bellator 263 from The Forum in Los Angeles, California, USA on July 31st.
The matchup was formally announced by Bellator during an online press conference on Tuesday.
The event will be Bellator’s first card in the state of California since early 2020. Bellator has been using the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut as a bubble venue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bellator has held 17 events in the venue and is set to hold two more before heading to California in late July.
“This is, to me, the relaunch of the Bellator brand … It’s time to get on the road,” said Bellator President Scott Coker on Wednesday.
The event will be Bellator’s fourth in the U.S. with a live crowd since the beginning of the pandemic.
Along with the confirmation of the title fight between Pitbull and McKee Jr., Bellator revealed a series of preliminary bouts that are expected to take place on July 31st.
Rising Bantamweights Stots and Magomedov Expected To Collide
Both undefeated in their Bellator runs thus far, Magomed Magomedov and Raufeon Stots will be matched for July 31st. The bout, which was first reported by Nolan King and John Morgan of MMA Junkie, is a matchup between two fighters ranked within the promotion’s top five bantamweights.
Magomedov has picked up two wins since joining the Bellator roster last year. His last fight saw him stop Cee Jay Hamilton in the second round with a rear naked choke.
The 29-year-old has a strong MMA record that of 18 wins. His sole pro loss came against former UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan.
Stots has earned four victories in Bellator so far. He scored his biggest win yet just last month, fighting to a decision victory over veteran Josh Hill.
Former Title Challenger Sanchez Returns Against Burnell
Attempting to bounce back from losing a title fight, Emmanuel Sanchez has been booked to fight Mads Burnell. The bout, which was first reported by Nolan King and John Morgan of MMA Junkie, was part of the confirmed package on Wednesday.
Sanchez lost a title fight to Patricio Pitbull earlier this year, getting stopped in the fourth minute of action with a guillotine choke. The bout was the semi-finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix that will conclude in the main event of this card.
Sanchez had defeated Daniel Weichel and Tywan Claxton in earlier rounds of the bracket.
Burnell, a former Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion, will be making his third Bellator appearance. He has finished both of his prior opponents, stopping Darko Banovic with strikes and submitting Saul Rogers.
Undefeated Nurmagomedov Returns Against Muro
Returning after winning his Bellator debut earlier this year, undefeated lightweight Usman Nurmagomedov will fight Manny Muro on the undercard, as announced Wednesday.
Nurmagomedov had a strong showing two months back, defeating Mike Hamel via unanimous decision to win his Bellator debut. He entered the promotion after scoring 11 pro wins from 2017 to 2020.
Muro is being matched with Nurmagomedov after being successful in his past two Bellator appearances. He was last seen in the Bellator cage in the fall, where he won a decision over Devin Powell.
Bout 4: Patricio Pitbull (32-4) vs. AJ McKee Jr. (Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix Final)
Bout 3: Magomed Magomedov (18-1) vs. Raufeon Stots (16-1) (Bantamweight)
Bout 2: Mads Burnell (15-3) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5) (Featherweight)
Bout 1: Usman Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs. Manny Muro (12-6) (Lightweight)