Bellator targets April 9 for 2021 return in familiar venue


Bellator 238 Media Day
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., is likely to host the first Bellator event of this year as the ViacomCBS-owned promotion restarts its schedule after a four-month break.

Bellator is targeting April 9 as the date for its 2021 kickoff, a person with knowledge of the promotion’s plans told MMA Fighting after MMA DNA initially reported the date. The fight card for the event is in the works.

The promotion initially targeted late February as the timeframe for its return to action, multiple people told MMA Fighting, but the restart was delayed for undisclosed reasons.

Mohegan Sun created a “bubble” for Bellator events starting this past July after a three-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An extensive testing and monitoring system was imposed to keep fighters safe, though several bouts were scratched as the result of positive tests, as with UFC and other promotions that moved forward during the pandemic.

The restart gives Bellator the chance to utilize several high-profile free agent acquisitions in the light heavyweight division. Former UFC title challengers Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson signed with the promotion, adding depth to a division now topped by Vadim Nemkov.

When the lights once again fire up, Bellator is working toward a return to Showtime and network television on CBS. This past October, Bellator moved from Paramount to CBS Sports Network after Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza was tasked to oversee the promotion.

“This is a very big company and now that it’s back merged together, it’s my job to go back there and keep trying to gain more real estate,” Bellator President Scott Coker told MMA Fighting in a previous interview. “That’s probably the best word. Keep growing this brand.

“Eventually getting on CBS is definitely a goal of ours and having events on Showtime would be amazing. That’s definitely a goal of ours.”

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