A slew of new matchups has been added to the Bellator 97 card, including a featherweight showdown between former title contender Patricio Freire and UFC veteran Rob Emerson.
Bellator officials announced the bookings on Tuesday. The July 31 event takes place at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., and is headlined by a Bellator lightweight title bout pitting Michael Chandler against David Rickels. Additionally, the evening’s Spike TV broadcast will showcase Ben Askren’s fourth welterweight title defense, as “Funky” takes on Season 7 tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov.
The show’s nine-fight preliminary card was also announced Tuesday, highlighted by the return of lightweight prospect Will Brooks, who takes on Cris Leyva to close out the Spike.com undercard stream. The opening round of Bellator’s 2013 Summer Series bantamweight tournament will also be featured, as Rafael Silva meets Rodrigo Lima and Anthony Leone squares off with Frank Baca.
The undercard will additionally feature the Bellator debut of former NCAA Division I champion Bubba Jenkins and the sophomore promotional effort of onetime U.S. National and Pan-American champ Shawn Bunch, as the American wrestling standouts take on Mike Barreras and Steve Garcia, respectively.