With Matheus Mattos out, Brett Johns faces Titan FC champ Danny Sabatello at Bellator 259

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Just a week out from his Bellator debut, Brett Johns is getting a new opponent.

Johns (17-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who was originally scheduled to face Matheus Mattos, will now take on Titan FC bantamweight champion Danny Sabatello (10-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 259, promotion officials announced Thursday.

Bellator 259 takes place May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.

Johns took to Instagram to say that Mattos was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.

“Unfortunately Matteus Mattos has contracted covid-19 as is unable to fight.

But @bellatormma have worked hard to find me a replacement. Now I will be fighting Former Titan FC World Champion Danny Sabatello. It’s a very tough fight. But I’m ready to go.

Respect to Danny for stepping up!”

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After testing free agency, Johns opted to sign with Bellator in October. The 29-year-old Welshman departed the UFC having won two straight over Tony Gravely and Montel Jackson. His only two octagon losses have come to top contender Pedro Munhoz and current UFC bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling.

Sabatello, who failed to secure a UFC contract after beating Taylor Moore on Dana White’s Contender Series 35 this past November, notched his first title defense when he scored a lopsided decision over Da’Mon Blackshear at Titan FC 67 in February. The American Top Team fighter will get another shot at the big leagues when he makes his Bellator debut on just a week’s notice against Johns.

With the change, the Bellator 259 lineup now includes:

MAIN CARD (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Cris Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith – for women’s featherweight title

  • Darrion Caldwell vs. Leandro Higo

  • Fabian Edwards vs. Austin Vanderford

  • Maycon Mendonca vs. Jaleel Willis

  • Christian Edwards vs. Ben Parrish

PRELIMINARY CARD (MMA Junkie, 5:30 p.m. ET)

  • Nate Andrews vs. Saad Awad

  • Tyree Fortune vs. Grant Neal

  • Sumiko Inaba vs. Kristina Katsikis

  • Sean Felton vs. Aviv Gozali

  • Hannah Guy vs. Valerie Loureda

  • Davion Franklin vs. Tyler King

  • Janay Harding vs. Leah McCourt

  • Alfie Davis vs. Alexander Shabliy

  • Brett Johns vs. Danny Sabatello