Bellator MMA’s next tent-pole event is beginning to take shape. Sherdog.com confirmed with a promotion official on Tuesday that that Bellator 153 will feature a welterweight clash between new signee Evangelista Santos and Brennan Ward as well as a featherweight scrap pitting ex-champ Patricio Freire against John Teixeira da Conceicao. ESPN.com first reported Santos-Word, while Combate brought word of Freire-Teixeira.
Bellator 153 takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on April 22 and is headlined by a 170-pound title tilt between reigning champion Andrey Koreshkov and former UFC kingpin Benson Henderson. The evening’s main card will air on Spike TV.
Santos, who fought for Strikeforce when Bellator President Scott Coker was at the helm, recently signed a multi-fight deal with the California-based promotion. The ex-husband of Invicta FC queen Cristiane Justino earned his first victory since 2013 on Jan. 22, when he outpointed Artenas Young at Legacy FC 50. The 38-year-old Brazilian is 20-16 as a pro, with 17 wins coming inside the distance.
Ward, meanwhile, enters the matchup on a four-fight winning streak. After scoring first-round finishes of Curtis Millender, Roger Carroll and Dennis Olson under the Bellator banner, the Waterford, Conn., native submitted Japanese prospect Ken Hasegawa in the second round at Rizin Fighting Federation’s New Year’s Eve event.
Freire will return to the cage for the first tim since relinquishing the featherweight strap to Daniel Straus at Bellator 145 last November. That defeat ended a seven-fight tear for the 28-year-old “Pitbull,” whose only three defeats in 27 career outings have come against Straus, Pat Curran and Joe Warren.
A competitor on Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” Teixeira has earned three straight split-decision triumphs to begin his Bellator tenure. He last competed at Bellator 143, taking a split verdict over Gleristone Santos in September. “Macapa” is 19-1-2 overall, with his lone setback coming against Hugo Viana at UFC 147.