This past August, Chidi Njokuani missed weight and then got dominated to the tune of a first-round knockout loss in a Bellator MMA headliner. Resultantly, he’s moving up to middleweight.
“Chidi Bang Bang” will head up to 185 pounds to take on likeminded striker Hisaki Kato at Bellator 189, scheduled for Dec. 1 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. CBSSports.com was first to report the matchup on Tuesday.
Njokuani, 28, was riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak headed into his Bellator 182 headliner this past August against former promotional welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. The Las Vegas-based standup artist clocked in at 175 pounds for the contest, missing weight by five pounds. Koreshkov then promptly ended Njokuani’s four-year undefeated run, stopping him at 4:08 of Round 1 with strikes.
Kato, a Daidojuku expert, has won four of his last five, with three of those victories coming in the Bellator cage. The 35-year-old made a thrilling promotional debut in June 2015, blowing away Joe Schilling in one of the year’s best knockouts but his roll was halted five months later when he suffered a similarly brutal fate at the hands of Melvin Manhoef. After a 64-second knockout of Yuta Watanabe in Rizin Fighting Federation, the French-born Japanese fighter rebounded under the Bellator banner with wins over A.J. Matthews last October and Ralek Gracie in January.
Bellator 189 is headlined by a women’s featherweight title rematch between champion Julia Budd and Arlene Blencowe. Budd previously bested Australia’s “Angerfist” via majority decision 12 months ago at Bellator 182.