Report: Bellator Adds Welterweight Title Bout to NYC Card in June

By Jay Pettry Apr 5, 2019

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Bellator MMA is rapidly adding to its recently announced event in New York City this summer, placing a combined welterweight Grand Prix semifinal match and title fight on the card.

According to ESPN late Thursday, Neiman Gracie (9-0) will be competing in the welterweight Grand Prix semifinal as well as for the welterweight title on June 14 at a Bellator event in Madison Square Garden in New York. Gracie will face off against the winner of Rory MacDonald (20-5) and Jon Fitch (31-7-1, 1 NC), where MacDonald will be defending his belt in the last quarterfinal of the tournament against Fitch at Bellator 220 in April. As the turnaround will be less than two months, if the winner is not cleared to compete, Lorenz Larkin would step in as the alternate, having defeated Ion Pascu at Bellator 207 last October.

Gracie won in the quarterfinals by submitting the previously-unbeaten Ed Ruth in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke. With all but one of his career victories coming by submission, Gracie has tapped out six fighters in the Bellator cage, tied for the most in promotional history along with five other fighters.

MacDonald last competed at Bellator 206, when he attempted to become the first simultaneous two-division champ in the promotion's history. His goal was thwarted at the hands of middleweight king Gegard Mousasi, who knocked out MacDonald in the second round. Prior to the loss, MacDonald made his successful organization debut by submitting Paul Daley, and went on to win the welterweight crown from Douglas Lima by close decision.

Fitch also made his Bellator debut against Daley, taking the British brawler down repeatedly en route to a clear-cut decision victory. Fitch is currently riding a five-fight win streak that includes wins over the likes of Jake Shields and Yushin Okami, and the streak is his longest since he won five straight from 2009 to 2010. 14 of Fitch's last 15 wins have come via judges' verdict, with his lone finish over Brian Foster by rear-naked choke at PFL: Daytona in 2017.

The event expected to be numbered Bellator 222 will take place on June 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Chael Sonnen will be competing against Lyoto Machida at the event as well.
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