Bellator MMA is heading to Hawaii for not one, but two events next month.
The promotion announced on Wednesday that Bellator 278 will take place on Friday, April 22nd, then Bellator 279 follows on April 23rd. Both cards will be televised on Showtime from the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.
Details on Bellator 278 will be revealed in due time, but Bellator 279 is a stacked show with two title fights as well as the start of the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix, and the return of former women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.
The main event of Bellator 279 is both a tournament fight and a title defense for champion Sergio Pettis (22-5) against #3 ranked contender Raufeon Stots (17-1). Pettis is coming off that ridiculous spinning backfist KO against Kyoji Horiguchi in a fight he was well behind on the scorecards through three rounds. Stots is on a nine-fight winning streak, and he’s coming off a win over Magomed Magomedov. His only career loss was by KO to current UFC contender Merab Dvalishvili.
In the co-main event, women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC) defends her title against Arlene Blencowe (15-8). Cyborg thrashed Sinead Kavanagh in 92 seconds last November, and she submitted Blencowe back in October 2020. Blencowe has won consecutive fights over Dayana Silva and Pam Sorenson since her defeat to Cyborg. There is literally zero reason to believe the rematch will be any more competitive than the first one, which wasn’t competitive at all.
As for the two prominent non-title fights, Kyoji Horiguchi will kick off his quarterfinal bout against former title challenger Patrick ‘Patchy’ Mix (15-1). We’ve already outlined Horiguchi’s last fight but lest you forget that he was once a simultaneous Bellator and RIZIN champ before an ACL tear forced him to vacate both belts. Mix lost to Juan Archuleta for the vacant title in September 2020 but has bounced back with submissions over Albert Morales and James Gallagher.
The other tournament participants are Magomed Magomedov, James Gallagher, James Gallagher, and Leandro Higo. Presumably those matchups and dates will be known in due time.
Lastly, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) gets a fight in front of her home fans for the first time since 2019. She made four successful defenses of the 125 lbs title before losing to Juliana Velasquez in December 2020, after which she was shelved for all of 2021 recovering from knee surgery. Her opponent in her comeback is UFC veteran Justine Kish (7-5), who went 3-4 in the UFC before signing with Bellator this year. She lost her promotional debut by decision to DeAnna Bennett.