Bellator MMA is making their return to Chicago in a big way. According to Ariel Helwani of ESPN, Bellator 221 will be headline by a champion vs champion matchup when rivals Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Michael Chandler will fight in the main event that takes place on Saturday, May 11, at AllState Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
The featherweight champion Freire will be jumping up to lightweight where Michael Chandler’s 155-pound title will be on the line. According to Helwani, an official announcement is expected to come from Bellator later this weekend. “Pitbull” will have an opportunity to become the promotion’s second two-weight champion after Ryan Bader became the first ever two-weight champion when he won the Heavyweight Grand Prix and became heavyweight champion in his victory over Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 214 last month.
The rivalry between the Freire and Chandler has been brewing for years after Chandler knocked out Patricky Freire at Bellator 157. Following the win, Patricio and Chandler were involved in a post-fight altercation which has led to the last few years of trash talk between the two, especially on social media.
Michael Chandler reclaimed his Bellator lightweight title when he defeated Brent Primus by unanimous decision at Bellator 212 this past December. Chandler lost the title to Primus at Bellator 180 then would go on to bounce back with a three-fight winning streak that was capped off by the rematch victory over Primus. Patricio Freire also finds himself on a three-fight win streak coming into this scheduled matchup with Chandler, his most recent victory was a title defense against Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 209.
Also included in the Helwani’s report is the return of several big names under the Bellator promotion. According to Helwani, the winner of this weekend’s Paul Daley vs Michael Venom Page fight will take on Douglas Lima, while former two-time featherweight champion Pat Curran will take on A.J. McKee in a rebooking of their fight that had been scheduled for Bellator 205 last September.
Former WWE star Jake Hager who successfully made his Bellator debut this past January at Bellator 214, is scheduled to get his second fight at Bellator 221 but an opponent has not yet been finalized according to the ESPN report.