Bellator 297 heads to Chicago with Vadim Nemkov vs. Yoel Romero, Sergio Pettis vs. Patricio Pitbull

Bellator is headed back to Chicago, and two title fights are coming with it.

The promotion has booked Bellator 297 for June 16 at Wintrust Arena where light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (16-2 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) will face Yoel Romero (15-6 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) in the night’s headliner. In the co-main event, featherweight champion Patricio Freire (35-5 MMA, 23-5 BMMA) drops to bantamweight to challenge 135-pound titleholder Sergio Pettis (22-5 MMA, 9-5 BMMA).

Promotion officials confirmed the news to MMA Junkie on Monday after an initial report by NBC Sports Chicago. The event will air on Showtime after prelims streamed on MMA Junkie.

Nemkov and Romero were originally expected to square off at Bellator 290 in February. However, Nemkov withdrew from the bout. Nemkov is coming off his grand prix-winning title defense against Corey Anderson in November. He has not lost since 2016.

Romero, 45, makes his first Bellator title challenge after multiple tries at middleweight gold in the UFC. Since joining Bellator in 2021, Romero lost a split decision to Phil Davis in his promotional debut before back-to-back wins over Melvin Manhoef and Alex Polizzi.

In what will be his Bellator bantamweight debut, Freire aims to pick up a title in a third weight class with the promotion. A former lightweight champion, Freire has reigned as featherweight champion since 2017 – with the exception of a nine-month period after a loss to A.J. McKee. In a rematch, Freire avenged his previous defeat before more recent victories over Adam Borics and Kleber Erbst.

Pettis, 29, is set to compete for the first time since he won the Bellator bantamweight title with a spinning backfist knockout of Kyoji Horiguchi in December 2021. Pettis was scheduled to compete in the ongoing Bellator bantamweight grand prix but withdrew prior to its start due to an ACL tear.

With the additions, the Bellator 297 lineup includes:

  • Champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Yoel Romero – for light heavyweight title

  • Champion Sergio Pettis vs. Patricio Freire – for bantamweight title

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie