PRELIMINARY CARD SEES FORMER FLYWEIGHT CHAMPION JULIANA VELASQUEZ SQUARE OFF AGAINST PAULA CRISTINA
LOS ANGELES (September 18, 2023) – BELLATOR MMA is adding five highly anticipated bouts to the promotion’s monumental return to the Windy City’s Wintrust Arena on Friday, November 17.
Rounding out the BELLATOR 301: Amosov vs. Jackson main card, former featherweight world champion and homegrown star No. 6-ranked AJ McKee (20-1) returns to action when he meets Kill Cliff FC’s No. 5-ranked Sidney Outlaw (17-5).
The preliminary portion of the event will now be accompanied by former flyweight world champion Juliana Velasquez (12-2) making her long awaited return to the BELLATOR cage when she meets fellow countrywoman Paula Cristina (6-2). Additionally, the undefeated Keri Taylor Melendez (5-0) will square off against Turkish striker Sabriye Sengul (3-3).
Elsewhere on the star-studded preliminary card, Colorado’s lightweight prospect Archie Colgan (8-0) will look to keep his undefeated streak intact when he takes on lightweight standout Pieter Buist (17-7) and Brazil’s Matheus Mattos (13-2-1) challenges former LFA bantamweight champion Richard Palencia (10-1).
Headlining BELLATOR 301, undefeated welterweight kingpin Yaroslav Amosov (27-0) defends his title versus No. 2-ranked Jason Jackson (16-4) as the proud Ukrainian chases the longest undefeated streak in MMA history (29 held by Khabib Nurmagomedov). The second belt on the line as Bantamweight World Champion Sergio Pettis (23-5) seeks to unify his world title against 135-pound World Grand Prix tournament winner and interim champion Patchy Mix (18-1). A high-stakes, five-round BELLATOR Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final bout is set between former titlist Patricky Pitbull (25-11) and No. 2-ranked Alexander Shabliy (23-3). The victor will advance to face the winner of the Oct. 7 matchup between Lightweight World Champion Usman Nurmagomedov and Brent Primus at BELLATOR 300. Lastly, every card needs a little animosity, and there will be no shortage of that when Raufeon Stots (19-2) and Danny Sabatello (14-3) renew their feud from 2022 in a rematch during the main card of BELLATOR 301.
BELLATOR 301: Amosov vs. Jackson will air live on SHOWTIME beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Preliminary card action is set to begin at 5 p.m. ET on BELLATOR’s YouTube and Pluto TV channels.
Tickets for the massive spectacle that is BELLATOR 301 are on sale now. More ticketing information can be found at Bellator.com and Ticketmaster.com.
AJ McKee (#6, 20-1) vs. Sidney Outlaw (#5, 17-5) – Lightweight Main Card Bout
McKee reached the pinnacle of the sport early in his career when he won the coveted $1,000,000 Featherweight World Grand Prix. Shortly after, McKee decided to take his business to lightweight in an attempt to capture another World Championship. After a medical issue forced him to withdraw from the Lightweight World Grand Prix, McKee now returns to the BELLATOR cage for the first time in 2023 in a marquee matchup at BELLATOR 301. In his most recent outing, McKee bested RIZIN lightweight champion Roberto De Souza at the monumental BELLATOR x RIZIN event on New Year’s Eve and looks to continue his momentum when he takes on top five ranked Sidney Outlaw at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill.
Also originally scheduled to compete in the Lightweight World Grand Prix, No. 5-ranked Sidney Outlaw returns to action following his impressive victory over Russia’s Islam Mamedov at the BELLATOR 298 event this past August. Having won twelve of his last fourteen bouts, the Kill Cliff FC standout now finds himself in a high-stakes lightweight tilt against his toughest test to date in McKee. With the Lightweight World Grand Prix rolling on, the Philadelphia native hopes to prove he is an undeniable contender with a victory over the former champion at BELLATOR 301.
Juliana Velasquez (#1, 12-2) vs. Paula Cristina (6-2) – Flyweight Bout
BELLATOR 301 will see the return of former BELLATOR Flyweight World Champion Juliana Velasquez when she takes on dangerous striker Paula Cristina. Sporting a perfect run in her first twelve outings, Velasquez looks to return to form in her first appearance of 2023. Specializing in Judo, the former champion has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the talent-stacked flyweight division.
28-year-old Cristina stands in Velasquez’s way on her path back to the title. Out of her six victories, Cristina boasts an impressive four knockouts to her name, proving to be a stylistic challenge for anyone in the division.
Keri Taylor Melendez (5-0) vs. Sabriye Sengul (3-3) – Flyweight Bout
In her long-awaited return to the BELLATOR cage, undefeated Keri Taylor Melendez will face off against Turkey’s Sabriye Sengul in her first outing since 2020. The wife of former STRIKEFORCE Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez, Keri has proven to be a well-rounded athlete who belongs at the upper echelon of the BELLATOR flyweight division. Meticulously putting together her dynamic striking and dangerous grappling skills, Melendez has created her own legacy within BELLATOR and looks to continue to add to her perfect record at BELLATOR 301. Competing in BELLATOR for the first time since 2019, Sengul has the opportunity to take Melendez’s spotlight in the promotion’s return to Chicago, Ill.
Archie Colgan (#10, 8-0) vs. Pieter Buist (17-7) – Lightweight Bout
Archie Colgan will grace the BELLATOR cage for the third time in 2023 when he returns to the Windy City to defend his top ten ranking against the rangy Pieter Buist in a lightweight clash. The active Colorado native has recently scored a first-round knockout against Justin Montalvo at BELLATOR 293 and overpowered grizzled veteran in Emmanuel Sanchez at BELLATOR 297. Although a highly credentialed wrestler from the renowned University of Wyoming’s wrestling program, five of Colgan’s victories have come by way of knockout. Making his promotional debut at BELLATOR 297, Buist plans to capitalize on his prominent height advantage against the surging prospect and pick up his first victory under the BELLATOR banner.
Matheus Mattos (13-2-1) vs. Richard Palencia (10-1) – Bantamweight Bout
In an exciting preliminary matchup, Brazil’s Matheus Mattos will face former LFA bantamweight champion Richard Palencia at BELLATOR 301. Training at the world-famous Pitbull Brother’s gym, Mattos will return to action on the strength of defeating Cee Jay Hamilton via second round TKO at BELLATOR 262. Due to a leg injury occurring in his promotional debut at BELLATOR 286, Arizona’s Palencia will step into the BELLATOR cage for the second time, this time hoping to prove he belongs in the talent-stacked bantamweight division.