Bellator MMA recently announced that the upcoming Lightweight World Grand Prix would kick off on March 10, 2023, in San Jose, California, and now the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion has revealed the opening matchups.
Per a press release, current 155-pound champion, Usman Nurmagomedov, will defend his title in the opening round against longtime veteran, Benson Henderson, in the main event of Bellator 292 inside the SAP Center.
Nurmagomedov won the title by defeating Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 288 to push his undefeated record to 16-0, 5-0 inside the Bellator cage. Henderson, meanwhile, is currently ranked No. 3 on Bellator’s official rankings and has won two straight coming into the championship fight. It’s a great turnaround and opportunity for “Smooth,” who was on a three-fight skid prior to his current win streak. Should Henderson defeat Nurmagomedov, he would then defend the title in the subsequent round.
In the co-main event, Tofiq Musayev will face off against Alexander Shabliy in another Grand Prix matchup. Musayev made a splash in his Bellator debut by knocking out Sydney Outlaw in just 27 seconds. The former RIZIN Lightweight champion already has a win over former Bellator title holder, Patricky Pitbull, and is currently ranked No. 2.
Shabliy, meanwhile, is ranked No. 4 in the division and is on a seven-fight win streak. He is 2-0 under the Bellator banner, which includes his most recent victory over Brent Primus at Bellator 282. The actual bracket has yet to be revealed, so there is no telling how the rest of the field will line up.
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