by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As the Bellator season comes together, it’s champions aren’t expected to sit on the sidelines as the promotion runs tournaments to crown new contenders.
Lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez will headline an early May card in a non-title against UFC veteran Josh Neer. It now appears featherweight champion Joe Soto will also compete in a non-title fight later in the month against another UFC veteran in Diego Saraiva.
Multiple sources close to the bout confirmed the fight to MMAWeekly.com Thursday afternoon.
The Soto vs. Saraiva bout is expected to headline a May 20 fight card, tentatively scheduled for New Orleans, as part of Bellator’s second season. Soto will then defend his belt during Season 3 against the winner of Season 2’s featherweight contender tournament.
Soto (8-0) rolled through Bellator’s first 145-pound tournament, racking up wins over Ben Greer, tournament favorite Wilson Reis, and Yahir Reyes, to be crowned the first-ever Bellator featherweight champion.
Saraiva (17-8-1) is currently riding a five-fight winning streak. His last loss was via decision to current World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Ben Henderson.