Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will make his next title defense against Alessio Sakara at the end of the year.
Sherdog.com confirmed the news with a promotion official on Wednesday following an initial report from MMAFighting.com. While the Bellator has not announced a numbered event for the card, the event is expected to take place in Florence, Italy on Dec. 9.
Carvalho hasn’t lost a fight since his professional debut in December 2011. The 30-year-old Brazilian captured middleweight gold with a body kick KO of Brandon Halsey at Bellator 144. He has since defended the belt successfully against Melvin Manhoef twice, including a head kick knockout of “No Mercy” in his last appearance at Bellator 176.
A native of Rome, Italy, Sakara enters the matchup on a three-fight winning streak. The 15-time UFC veteran has scored back-to-back stoppages under the Bellator banner, knocking out Brian Rogers in the second round in April 2016 before stopping Joey Beltran in the opening stanza last December.