Patricio Pitbull kicked off his third reign as Bellator Bantamweight Champion earlier this year, avenging a loss against AJ McKee Jr. to get the belt back in his possession.
Now aiming to keep that third campaign alive, Pitbull will take on long-time rising contender Adam Borics. Their fight is scheduled to headline Bellator 286 on Saturday night from the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in Long Beach, California, USA.
The card also includes the lightweight debut of McKee Jr., plus at least half-a-dozen high-quality prospects on the prelims.
Here’s a full preview of the show.
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Keoni Diggs (9-2) vs. Ricardo Seixas (9-3) (Lightweight)
Both aiming to get back into the win column, lightweights Keoni Diggs and Ricardo Seixas will face off in the opening bout of the night.
Diggs will be aiming to not take his third consecutive loss. He had his nine-fight undefeated record put to an end last year when he lost a split decision to Daniel Weichel. The skid only continued after, as he then lost to Bobby King.
Seixas was finished quickly in his last appearance, getting stopped by Mandel Nallo more than a year ago. His previous Bellator fight was an impressive showing, beating Dominic Clark in just 34 seconds with strikes.
Bout 2: Bobby Seronio III (2-0) vs. Miguel Peimbert (1-1) (Bantamweight)
In the first of three bantamweight fights of the night, Bobby Seronio III will take on Miguel Peimbert.
Seronio III’s short pro record has taken place exclusively in Bellator. He earned his first finish win in April, stopping Calob Ramirez in the second round of a fight with punches.
Peimber just debuted as a pro in February. He is coming off a loss in this appearance, having dropped a fight to Alberto Garcia in April.
Bout 3: Richie Palencia (10-0) vs. Cee Jay Hamilton (15-9) (Bantamweight)
Undefeated bantamweight Richie Palencia will make his Bellator debut on Saturday night against Cee Jay Hamilton.
Palencia has a flawless pro record of 10 wins. He is coming off a title fight victory from late last year, going five rounds against Allan Begosso to earn the LFA Bantamweight Championship.
Hamilton will be searching for his first Bellator victory. He has taken two losses in the promotion, albeit against high-level names Magomed Magomedov and Matheus Mattos.
Bout 4: Max Rohskopf (7-1) vs. Mike Hamel (9-5) (Lightweight)
Back on a big stage, Max Rohskopf will face Mike Hamel.
Rohskopf notably had a one-fight UFC run in 2020, stepping in on short notice to face Austin Hubbard. He retired from that fight in between the second and third rounds and was surprisingly cut from the UFC roster after.
Rohskopf has built his record up since then, appearing on two U.S. Cage Warriors cards. His record is now a solid seven wins and just one loss.
Hamel is also on a run, having earned a few recent victories in Bellator. His last appearance saw him beat Killys Mota via split decision.
Bout 5: Lance Gibson Jr. (6-0) vs. Dominic Clark (15-12) (Lightweight)
Lance Gibson Jr. will return on the prelims to face veteran Dominic Clark.
Gibson Jr. will be fighting for his seventh pro win, and fifth in the Bellator cage. He has picked up one win this year, overcoming Nainoa Dung on scorecards five months back.
Clark is the most experienced opponent that Gibson Jr. has faced yet. He has fought a total of 27 times since debuting over a decade ago, and has won just more than half of those appearances.
Bout 6: Weber Almeida (6-1) vs. Ryan Lilley (11-8) (Featherweight)
Continuing with the prospect showcases on the prelims, Weber Almeida will take on Ryan Lilley.
Almeida has appeared in Bellator five times since 2019. He bounced back from his sole pro loss in his last appearance, returning with a first-round finish victory over Fabricio Franco.
Lilley has previous experience in LFA and XMMA. He has lost four of his last five fights, including a decision loss to Albert Morales from May.
Bout 7: Sumiko Inaba (4-0) vs. Nadine Mandiau (2-5) (Flyweight)
Sumiko Inaba will attempt to keep her impressive run going on Saturday when she faces Nadine Mandiau.
Inaba has finished all four of her opponents since debuting in late 2020. Her last fight was her quickest performance yet, putting Whittany Pyles in the second minute of a bout with a left hook.
Mandiau’s record is a negative two wins and five losses. She snapped a four-fight skid last month, beating Katty Strite on a Peak Fighting card.
Bout 8: Khadzhimurat Bestaev (11-4) vs. Khalid Murtazaliev (15-3) (Middleweight)
The sole middleweight bout on the card will see Khadzhimurat Bestaev and Khalid Murtazaliev face off.
Bestaev won his Bellator debut last year, taking a decision nod over Ty Gwerder. His previous fight was on the UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series,” where he lost to Phil Hawes.
Murtazaliev, a former UFC fighter, took a win and a loss in his rookie year for Bellator last year.
Bout 9: Jay Jay Wilson (8-1) vs. Vladimir Tokov (6-1) (Lightweight)
Appearing for the first time since suffering his first pro defeat, Jay Jay Wilson will take on Vladimir Tokov on the prelims.
Wilson climbed up the Bellator rankings for years, attaining an impressive record of eight wins by the age of 23. But he ran into trouble with making weight for a featherweight fight, forcing him to move up to lightweight for the foreseeable future.
Wilson’s first lightweight endeavor was a tough challenge, taking on the experienced Gadzhi Rabadanov in March. He struggled in this fight, losing a unanimous decision in the end.
He now faces Tokov, who has won in three of his four Bellator appearances since 2019. His last fight saw him beat Daniele Scatizzi on scorecards.
Bout 10: Islam Mamedov (21-2-1) vs. Nick Browne (13-1) (Lightweight)
High-ranked lightweights Islam Mamedov and Nick Browne will square off in the final prelim.
Mamedov’s last Bellator appearance saw him lose a split decision to Benson Henderson in January. He has picked up a win outside the promotion since then, making quick work of Zach Zane at Eagle FC 47.
Browne, a former LFA Lightweight Champion, has scored two wins since joining Bellator. His debut was in October 2021, when he finished Bobby Lee in the second minute with a heel hook. His last fight was a big win, stopping Mandel Nallo with strikes in February.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (Showtime)
Bout 11: Juan Archuleta (25-4) vs. Enrique Barzola (18-6-2) (Bantamweight)
After a lengthy prelims, Bellator’s four-fight main card will kick off with a bout between Juan Archuleta and Enrique Barzola.
Archuleta will be fighting to snap a two-fight skid after taking two high-level losses.
The first of those two losses saw Archuleta lose the Bellator Bantamweight Championship in 2021, going five rounds against Sergio Pettis and losing via unanimous decision in the end.
Archuleta then joined the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix this year. He had an early departure from the bracket, as a third-round head kick stoppage from Raufeon Stots handed him another loss.
Barzola, a former UFC fighter, also competed in the bantamweight tournament. He was finished in the fourth round of a fight against Magomed Magomedov, getting submitted with a guillotine choke.
Bout 12: Aaron Pico (10-3) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (17-3) (Featherweight)
Flashy featherweight Aaron Pico will return on Saturday against Jeremy Kennedy.
Pico has picked up six consecutive wins since the start of 2020, with many of those fights coming via finish. He beat Adli Edwards in April, putting him away with punches in the third round of that fight.
Kennedy will attempt to become the fourth fighter to beat Pico. The former UFC and PFL fighter has won two of his three fights since joining Bellator in late 2020. His last victory came against a real veteran of the sport, beating Emmanuel Sanchez in December 2021 via unanimous decision.
Bout 13: AJ McKee Jr. (18-1) vs. Spike Carlyle (14-3) (Lightweight)
AJ McKee Jr. will make his lightweight debut against Spike Carlyle in the co-main event of the card.
McKee Jr. built up an 18-fight career as a pro at featherweight. This undefeated run culminated last year when he submitted Patricio Pitbull in the first round with a guillotine choke to become the Bellator Featherweight Champion.
McKee Jr. wasn’t able to prevail in his rematch against Pitbull this year, going the distance but losing on scorecards in April. Despite a prolonged success at featherweight and just one blemish on his record, McKee Jr. has decided to move up by 10 pounds starting with this fight.
Carlyle, a former UFC talent, turned heads in his Bellator debut last year, scoring a come-from-behind win against Dan Moret via submission. He is now returning to the promotion after an appearance in RIZIN, where he submitted Koji Takeda in April.
Bout 14: Patricio Pitbull (33-5) vs. Adam Borics (18-1) (Bellator Featherweight Championship)
Patricio Pitbull will attempt to defend his Bellator Featherweight Championship in Saturday night’s main event against Adam Borics.
Pitbull will be trying to defend his belt for the first time in his third reign. He regained his belt in April, avenging a loss to AJ McKee Jr. via unanimous decision.
It was McKee Jr. that ended Pitbull’s previous reign, a run that lasted more than four years and included five title defenses.
Borics’ Bellator career has been near flawless. Through 10 appearances for the promotion since 2017, he has only suffered one defeat. He enters this weekend on a four-fight winning streak. Two more recent fights, in particular, stand out in this run, defeating Mads Burnell and Jeremy Kennedy.
Borics has slowly climbed up the Bellator ranks. A title fight wasn’t handed to him overnight. Instead, he has fight-after-fight proved that he has made it to title fight level. Now, he has just one more test to prevail in before he can call himself the best 145-pound fighter in the promotion.