The Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix resumes Thursday, Nov. 12 with two quarterfinal matchups set to take place, as champ Patricio “Pitbull” (30-14) defends his title against Pedro Carvalho (11-3), while Daniel Weichel (40-11) and Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) square off in a battle of former title contenders. Additionally, the first semifinal bout is set for Thursday, Nov. 19, when former titleholder Darrion Caldwell (15-3) squares off with undefeated AJ McKee (16-0) for a spot in the tournament finals. All the action airs LIVE on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
In the main event of Bellator 252 on Nov. 12, fans will see a featherweight world title bout with two-division Bellator champion Patricio “Pitbull” defending his 145-pound crown against SBG Ireland’s Carvalho. In addition to the five-round championship headliner, a second Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal will go down, as two former title challengers in Weichel and Sanchez meet again following a razor-thin split decision-victory for Weichel in 2016. The winners of these two bouts can expect to see each other in the next semifinal matchup.
The Bellator 253 headliner on Nov. 19 sees former bantamweight world champion Caldwell go toe-to-toe with rising prospect McKee on the other side of the bracket in the first semifinal. The winner earns a guaranteed spot in the finals and a shot at the Bellator world title and a chance to take home one million dollars.
All three Featherweight World Grand Prix bouts were initially slated to take place at the postponed Bellator 241 and Bellator 244 events prior to the COVID-19 pandemic effectively putting the yearlong tournament on hiatus.
CBS Sports Network will air Bellator 252: Pitbull vs. Carvalho and Bellator 253: Caldwell vs. McKee LIVE in all U.S. markets at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, while preliminary matchups will stream on CBSSports.com and Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel. Additional bouts will be announced at a later date.
Hailing from Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, two-time featherweight champ Patricio “Pitbull” will enter the Bellator cage for a promotional record 23rd time on Nov. 12. With impressive wins to his credit over Michael Chandler, Daniel Straus (x3), Daniel Weichel (x2) and Pat Curran, the 33-year old continues on in the Featherweight World Grand Prix not far removed from his lightweight championship victory in May of last year. Having earned a finish in 21 of his 30 wins as a professional, the simultaneous two-division champion most recently bested current bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta on the scorecards in an exciting opening round World Grand Prix matchup and fans can certainly expect more fireworks when he finally sets his sights on Carvalho.
Portuguese submission specialist Pedro Carvalho will be entering the Bellator cage for just the fifth time in his eight-year professional career, looking for his seventh consecutive victory and his first world title victory. With victories in nine of his last 11 contests, including against Derek Campos, Daniel Crawford and a face crank-submission over Sam Sicilia in the opening round, the 25-year-old SBG Ireland-product is on the cusp of greatness – and winning the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix would be the perfect way to solidify it.
With over 50 professional fights to his name, Germany’s Daniel Weichel is ready to make his 2020 debut in a highly anticipated World Grand Prix quarterfinal bout with Sanchez, a fighter Weichel got the better of four years ago at Bellator 159. Following his Bellator debut in 2014, “Drake” has enjoyed an impressive promotional mark of 9-3, including pivotal victories over Sanchez, Pat Curran, Georgi Karakhanyan and Saul Rogers.
On the heels of yet another masterful performance that ended in a submission victory over Tywan Claxton in the opening round of the World Grand Prix, “El Matador” is ready for another title run as he prepares for the 50-fight veteran and the man who beat him once before, Daniel Weichel. Since joining forces with Bellator in 2014, the Milwaukee, Wisc.-resident has collected 11 victories over a 14-fight stint, including key wins over the likes of Claxton, Daniel Straus, Marcos Galvao and Georgi Karakhanyan (2x).
Having needed just one round to put away his last opponent via submission in the quarterfinals of the World Grand Prix, Darrion Caldwell is on a mission to regain Bellator gold. “The Wolf,” a former North Carolina State University NCAA National Champion wrestler, has looked unstoppable since moving up to the featherweight division, having defeated Adam Borics, as well as Henry Corrales in the opening round of the tournament. Now, the former bantamweight champ sits only two victories away from holding a title in his second division – a feat very few athletes can claim.
Touted by ESPN as the best fighter in MMA under the age of 25, AJ McKee looks to back up the lofty expectations often held by the public for second generations-athletes. Undefeated in his career, “The Mercenary” has made himself known to the world through his flashy persona and trash talk, but most importantly, his work inside the Bellator cage. With every one of his pro bouts taking place with Bellator, the Long Beach-native can achieve what he set out to do beginning at Bellator 146 in 2015 and become world champion with just two more wins.
Also announced for Bellator 252… is a third main card bout featuring the always-exciting Aaron Pico (6-3) of Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, N.M., who returns for his second appearance inside Bellator’s “FightSphere, having previously defeated Solo Hatley Jr. in impressive fashion at Bellator 242. He will take on Pittsburgh’s John de Jesus (13-8), who was most recently victorious at Bellator 244 against Vladyslav Parubchenko, in what promises to an explosive featherweight contest.
Bellator 252: Pitbull vs. Carvalho
Featherweight World Title Bout/FWGP Quarterfinal: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) vs. Pedro Carvalho (11-3)
Featherweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinal: Daniel Weichel (40-11) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4)
Featherweight Main Card Bout: Aaron Pico (6-3) vs. John de Jesus (13-8)
Bellator 253: Caldwell vs. McKee
Featherweight World Grand Prix Semifinal: Darrion Caldwell (15-3) vs. AJ McKee (16-0)