Bellator 297: Vadim Nemkov vs. Yoel Romero
The biggest news for Bellator in 2023 was that they had been purchased by the PFL and will merge with the organization over time, though will continue under the Bellator banner to start. Since the purchase of the organization, the Bellator champs are expected to face the PFL champs in 2024.
Right around the time the rumors started, Bellator held their best card of the year which featured bantamweight and light heavyweight title fights. Bellator 297 was held in Chicago and featured a stacked 15-fight bill.
The main card featured all ranked fighters, including two champions looking to defend their titles again.
Bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis continued his Bellator dominance with a win over featherweight champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, bringing his record to 5-0. He also stopped the Bellator GOAT from making MMA history by becoming the first triple MMA champion in history.
Light heavyweight champ Vadim Nemkov defended his title for a fourth time, keeping his undefeated Bellator record intact at 9-0 with a win over Yoel Romero.
Ranked heavyweights Daniel James and Gokhan Saricam kicked off the main card with Saricam moving up the rankings with a win. Corey Anderson got back into the title picture with a win over former light heavyweight champion Phil Davis.
The prelims featured four undefeated fighters who stayed that way when Jordan Newman, Norbert Novenyi, Jr., and newcomer Ramazan Kuramagomedov all won by finish in round 1. The No. 10-ranked lightweight Archie Colgan also stayed undefeated with a win over veteran Emmanuel Sanchez. Ranked lightweight Gadzhi Rabadanov stayed perfect in Bellator with a win over Pieter Buist and veteran Cody Law picked up another win over newcomer Edwin Chavez.
Bellator 297 featured a postliminary card which featured the successful debut of Wladmir Gouvea. Veterans Kyle Crutchmer and Mike Hamel picked up wins. Karl Moore continued his Bellator dominance against Alex Polizzi with his fourth straight win and Timur Khizriev remained undefeated at 13-0.