Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will re-enter the cage on May 4, taking on Akihiro Gono in a non-title affair at Bellator 67.
Promotion officials Wednesday announced the bout, which takes place at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada, and airs on MTV2 and Epix. Additionally, a previously reported welterweight scrap between Ryan Ford and Luis Santos has been made official, as “The Real Deal” makes his Bellator debut against the experienced “Sapo.”
Chandler, 25, has yet to taste defeat as a professional. The two-time Strikeforce veteran joined the Bellator ranks in 2010 and won the promotion’s Season 4 lightweight tournament, posting victories over Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Freire before toppling divisional kingpin Eddie Alvarez to win the strap this past November. Chandler will make the first defense of his crown against the Season 6 lightweight tournament winner, but he must first take care of business against the veteran Gono.
“I’m just excited to get back into the cage,” Chandler said in the official release. “I fought four times in 2011 and I’m ready to get back to work. Gono has beaten some of the best fighters in the sport, and this should be a good test for me.”
A former UFC, Sengoku and Pride Fighting Championships talent, Gono began his career in April of 1994. Now 37 years old, Gono has lost back-to-back fights since posting a three-fight winning streak from 2009 to 2010. The Japanese veteran -- who has faced the likes of Mauricio Rua, Gegard Mousasi and Hector Lombard -- spent 2011 on the shelf but returned to action less than one month ago, falling by unanimous decision to Daisuke Nakamura on Feb. 18.