LOS ANGELES – Bellator MMA has announced its return to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where Honolulu's Neal S. Blaisdell Arena will play home to an extremely stacked duo of events on back-to-back nights, Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23.
Friday night's Bellator 278 will be a special event, free for current military, veterans and first responders. Matchups and additional details for the event will be announced shortly.
Saturday night's Bellator 279 will feature the launch of the highly anticipated $1 million Bellator bantamweight world grand prix. The headliner will see current bantamweight world champion Sergio Pettis (22-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) take on No. 3-ranked Raufeon Stots (17-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA), while the co-main event features a rematch between the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time, Cris Cyborg (25-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) and Australia's No. 1-ranked Arlene Blencowe (15-8 MMA, 8-4 BMMA), who will look to claim gold in her third attempt at a world title.
Saturday's "Bellator 279: Pettis vs. Stots" will air live on SHOWTIME at 4:30 p.m. HST local time, 10:30 p.m. ET. The preliminary fights will stream live on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel, Showtime Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV beginning at 2 p.m. HST local time.
Tickets for Saturday night's "Bellator 279: Pettis vs. Stots" go on sale this Friday, March 11 and can be purchased through Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com or the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena Box Office. A special presale will take place on Thursday, March 10.
Also scheduled for a return to action, Honolulu's own former women's flyweight world champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1 MMA, 10-1 BMMA) will return home to compete against Justine Kish (7-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) as the No. 1-ranked women's flyweight looks to start her journey back to a world title in the same arena two of the most memorable Bellator main events in recent memory took place. Opening the four-fight main card is another Bellator Bantamweight world grand prix quarterfinal matchup between No. 2-ranked bantamweight Patchy Mix (15-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) and former Bellator and Rizin Bantamweight World Champion Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4 MMA, 1-1 BMMA).
Current Bellator Bantamweight World Champion Sergio "The Phenom" Pettis sits at No. 7 on the promotion's pound-for-pound list. He successfully defended his belt for the first time against former Bellator 135-pound titleholder Kyoji Horiguchi with a "Knockout of the Year" style finish at Bellator 272 in December. The hard-hitting Midwesterner out of Milwaukee originally captured the crown by outpointing former champion Juan Archuleta. The younger brother of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will be in for one of the toughest fights of his career when he takes on Raufeon Stots.
Stots, who used to train alongside Pettis for several years, has been flawless since making his promotional debut in December 2019. He most recently scored a dominant unanimous decision victory over Magomed Magomedov at Bellator 264.
Featherweight world champion and top-ranked women's pound-for-pound fighter Cris Cyborg has made three straight title defenses, including a second-round submission of Arlene Blencowe in 2020, which surprisingly is the lone submission victory of her storied career. The Brazilian native who currently fights out of Las Vegas, is a "Grand Slam Champion" having won belts in four different organizations. She sports 20 wins by finish with victories over elite competition including Holly Holm, Leslie Smith (twice), Gina Carano and aims to further her legacy as the greatest women's mixed martial artist of all time in the rematch versus Blencowe.
Australia's Blencowe is Bellator's No. 6 pound-for-pound female fighter and the No. 1 ranked featherweight. She has won five of her last six fights and earned her shot at the world title rematch with a unanimous decision over Pam Sorenson at Bellator 271 in November.
Currently Bellator's No. 2-ranked bantamweight, Patchy Mix recently defeated James Gallagher via submission in his last outing at Bellator 270 in Dublin. Mix has made a name for himself in the Bellator cage by displaying impressive submissions and his lone professional loss came to former champion Juan Archuleta. He now faces Horiguchi, another former world champion who hails from Takasaki, Japan. The American Top Team prodigy Horiguchi became a simultaneous, two-promotion champion in 2019 after he upset then-Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell while also holding the Rizin Championship. After he was forced to relinquish his Bellator title due to an injury, Horiguchi nearly got his hands back on Bellator's title but was stopped by current champion Sergio Pettis in December. The No. 5-ranked bantamweight now aims to get back in the winning column and recapture his belt, along with the $1 million prize that awaits the winner of the Bellator bantamweight world grand prix.