Bellator MMA is ready to get back to business.
The ViacomCBS-owned promotion is targeting July 24 for its first show since the coronavirus pandemic forced it to cancel several cards between March and June. The summer event is expected to kick off a three-month residency at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in partnership with Showtime Championship Boxing. Details of the events are still being finalized, so no official announcements have been made.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed the information to MMA Fighting on Wednesday following an initial report from Sherdog. Bellator President Scott Coker said the July 24th event is not confirmed and added “I can’t target until we get approval.” He declined further comment.
In May, Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza, who in January was tapped to oversee Bellator as part of a corporate restructuring at ViacomCBS, told Boxingscene.com he planned to promote crossover events featuring the MMA promotion and Showtime Boxing. Coker said fans could see an exchange of talent.
“Whether it’s fighter vs. fighter, or an event where you do both styles in the same night, the door is open, and those conversations are happening,” said Coker. “It hasn’t been determined, but I do think it will happen at some point. There will be boxing guys going into MMA, and MMA guys going into boxing. That’s something Stephen and I have talked about.”
The Mohegan Sun Arena was supposed to host Bellator 241 on March 13 before it was ultimately cancelled due to the pandemic. The card was supposed to feature a pair of semifinal bouts in the ongoing Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, including champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vs. Pedro Carvalho.
Since then, Bellator MMA has stayed relatively quiet in terms of a relaunch date, though the promotion briefly planned to hold events behind closed doors this summer at a sound stage in California.
While the card for July 24 is still coming together, sources indicated that bout agreements have been issued to several fighters. Travel restrictions could prevent some international fighters from coming to the United States, which may alter the overall look of some upcoming events.
Another potential hurdle to clear in Connecticut is the state’s current travel restrictions inside the U.S. Visitors from 19 different states are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving. The state is not currently enforcing the advisory, however, only asking travels to abide by the restrictions.
Travelers can also skip the 14-day quarantine if they’ve taken a COVID-19 test in the 72 hours prior to travel.