The co-main event for Bellator 153: Koreshkov vs. Henderson is set, with the news that Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (24-3) will compete against John “Macapa” Teixeira (19-1-2) in featherweight action on April 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
In addition, Connecticut’s own “Irish” Brennan Ward (13-3) returns to action in his home state fresh off an impressive victory in Japan, when he welcomes Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos (20-16) into the Bellator MMA fray at 170-pounds.
The two bouts join a main event that features the highly anticipated Bellator debut of Benson “Smooth” Henderson (23-5), as he challenges welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov (18-1) for his belt. Four preliminary bouts were also announced; additional contests will be added in the coming weeks.
For “Pitbull,” a fight on April 22 is the first step back towards a shot at Daniel Straus’ featherweight title, a belt that Freire held before the two met at Bellator 145: With A Vengeance. At 28 years of age and with already 15 fights under the Bellator MMA banner, the Natal-native has been victorious in seven out of his last eight outings and emphatically finished Daniel Weichel in what was a knockout of the year candidate in 2015.
Undefeated in Bellator MMA, including an entertaining victory his last time out against Gleristone Santos; “Macapa” has not suffered defeat since 2012. A product of the highly regarded Nova Uniao team, Teixeira has previously competed in the UFC, where he was a competitor on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” April 22 will only be the fourth time the 29-year-old has fought outside of Brazil.
For Ward, fighting at the Mohegan Sun is like competing in his own backyard. Located 10 miles from his home in New London, Conn., “Irish” has won four times at the Mohegan Sun, all by finish with three KOs and one submission. Most recently, the 27-year-old former NCAA All-American moved up in weight and submitted former heavyweight Ken Hasegawa in Japan while representing Bellator MMA during Rizin FF’s inaugural event this past December. The win brought Ward’s current winning streak to five fights, all coming by way of finish.
Best known to fans as “Cyborg,” Santos enters the Scott Coker-led promotion fresh off a win already in 2016. A veteran of Pride FC and Strikeforce, “Cyborg” has been involved in some memorable tussles against names the likes of: Nick Diaz, Gegard Masousi, Francis Carmont, and Melvin Manhoef (2x). Now, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt will turn his attention to one of Bellator MMA’s fastest rising stars.
Bellator 153: Koreshkov vs. Henderson Updated Fight Card:
Welterweight World Title Bout: Andrey Koreshkov (18-1) vs. Benson Henderson (23-5)
Featherweight Co-Main Event: Patricio Freire (24-3) vs. John Teixeira (19-1-2)
Welterweight Feature Bout: Brennan Ward (13-3) vs. Evangelista Santos (20-16)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Sam Watford (1-0) vs. Dean Hancock (2-0)
Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Chris Foster (8-4) vs. Felipe Lavandoski (5-0)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Jason Bakanowski (3-2) vs. T.J. Hepburn (4-2)
Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Pete Rogers (2-3) vs. Mike Mangan (0-3)