The debut event of Bellator MMA in Japan has just been shaken up.
Late Wednesday, the promotion announced that Benson Henderson has been forced to withdraw from his bout against Michael Chandler (19-5) at Bellator Japan on Dec. 28. Replacing Henderson will be Sidney Outlaw (14-3) on short notice, and they will face one another at a presumed catchweight affair in the co-main event.
Chandler is looking to bounce back from a knockout loss where he surrendered his lightweight throne to Patricio Freire in May. The upset defeat allowed Freire to become a simultaneous two-division champ, while snapping a three-fight win streak that allowed Chandler to get his belt back for the third time. "Iron Mike" is one of a small number of Bellator fighters that have taken at least 20 trips to the cage, along with Joe Warren, Freire and his brother Patricky Freire, David Rickels and Saad Awad. One of the winningest fighters in company history, he is the first to win a belt in a weight class three separate times in Bellator and among an elite few to do so across all major organizations.
Outlaw made the most of his return to the promotion in November, capturing a decision over Roger Huerta at Bellator 234. Winner of each of his last nine including five by tapout, the Dana White's Contender Series and World Series of Fighting alum made his first walk to the Bellator cage in 2014. It was at Bellator 118 that he first appeared, taking a unanimous verdict over Mike Bannon.
Bellator Japan airs on Dec. 28 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event will be headlined by a heavyweight rumble between Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton Jackson. Additionally, three bouts pitting Bellator fighters against their Rizin Fighting Federation counterparts will go down, including Lorenz Larkin against Keita Nakamura at welterweight. The promotion has also placed four bouts on the card that will be contested under Rizin rules while inside the cage, which would allow for soccer kicks and other strikes to grounded opponents.