Bellator MMA has been busy filling up its schedule of events for the first quarter of 2017. With the two “tentpole” shows already having confirmed headliners — Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen (Bellator 170, January 21st), then Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione (Bellator 172, February 18th) — Bellator has announced three new main events for shows to be held in January, February, and March.
First up is Bellator 171 on January 27th in Mulvane, Kansas, where UFC veteran Melvin Guillard will top the card against Chidi Njokuani. Guillard (32-16-2, 3 NCs) is returning from his reduced six-month suspension after he reportedly tested positive for cocaine in his KO win over David Rickels last July. As a result, the win was overturned to a no contest. Njokuani (16-4, 1 NC) has won his last six fights, including a 21-second starching of Andre Fialho at Bellator 167 last December. The 28-year-old also holds a notable body kick TKO win over Alan Jouban.
Guillard vs. Njokuani will be contested at a 175 lbs catchweight, with the acknowledgement that this event is just over two weeks away.
Up next, Bellator 173 will originate from SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Friday, February 24th. Former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary (11-1) will fight TUF 19 alum and BAMMA veteran Chris Fields (11-7-1). This will be McGeary’s first fight since losing his title to Phil Davis back in November. Fields has just one win in his last five, and that came in his February 2016 matchup against Dan Konecke at BAMMA 24. This will be Fields’ Bellator debut, and he certainly drew a difficult opponent.
Lastly, Bellator 174 is set for Friday, March 3rd in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The main event will be for Bellator’s women’s featherweight title, as Marloes Coenen (23-7) will take on Julia Budd (9-2). Coenen was actually supposed to face Budd for the belt at Bellator 155, but Budd suffered an injury and had to pull out. The Dutchwoman instead fought Alexis Dufresne, who badly missed weight, then proceeded to submit Coenen by triangle-armbar in a stunning result. Coenen was scheduled to compete at Bellator 163 in November, but Talita Nogueira failed to make weight and the fight was cancelled outright. Canada’s Budd has won her last seven, with three of them under the Bellator banner. She’s coming off a majority decision win over Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 162.
For the TL;DR crowd, these are the first five main events on the Bellator docket to start off 2017:
Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen - Saturday, January 21st
Bellator 171: Guillard vs. Njokuani - Friday, January 27th
Bellator 172: Fedor vs. Mitrione - Saturday, February 18th
Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields - Friday, February 24th
Bellator 174: Coenen vs. Budd - Friday, March 3rd
All of these cards will air on Spike TV, although Bellator 173 will be broadcast on tape delay at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT.