Bellator MMA is headed back to Italy with a title fight in tow.
Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will make the third defense of his promotional crown at Bellator 190, staking his throne against long-time Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran and Italian native Alessio Sakara. Bellator 190 is set for Dec. 9 at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy.
Bellator 190 will be the company’s fourth event in Italy and the second inside Florence’s Nelson Mandela Forum. The company previously staged Bellator 168 at the same venue last December.
Carvalho, 31, hasn’t lost an MMA bout since his pro debut in December 2011. The Brazilian has rode a 14-fight winning streak to the Bellator 185-pound title, capturing the vacant crown by stopping Brandon Halsey with a liver kick in October 2015, then successfully defending his title twice against vaunted Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef. After a contentious and disputed split decision over Manhoef in May of last year, Carvalho won the rematch in much more convincing fashion this past April — in Torino, Italy, incidentally — by knocking “No Mercy” out with a head kick.
The 36-year-old Sakara exited the UFC after an eight-year tenure in October 2013 amidst a four-fight skid that saw him lose to Chris Weidman, Brian Stann, Patrick Cote and Nico Musoke. “Legionarius” has rebounded, winning three in a row, including two knockout wins in the Bellator cage. In 2016, the American Top Team rep knocked out Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran on Italian Bellator cards to earn his title bid.