Bellator MMA announced on Monday that a light heavyweight championship rematch between Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson will headline the card, while a previously reported lightweight title between Patricky Freire against Usman Nurmagomedov will serve as the co-main event in Bellator 288
Bellator 288 takes place at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, and the main card airs on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Nemkov and Anderson initially squared off in the finals of the 205-pound grand prix at Bellator 277, but the bout was declared a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads 4:55 into Round 3. Prior to the foul, Anderson appeared to be imposing his will through wrestling in Rounds 2 and 3 after a solid opening stanza from Nemkov.
Prior to facing Anderson, Nemkov authored a nine-bout winning streak that included seven triumphs in Bellator MMA. The Fedorteam representative owns notable wins over the likes of Phil Davis (twice), Ryan Bader, Rafael Carvalho and Liam McGeary.
Anderson signed with Bellator after a 10-5 stint in the UFC. He kicked off his promotional tenure with TKO triumphs over Melvin Manhoef, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and Bader before facing Nemkov. Anderson’s resume also features victories against Glover Teixeira, Jan Blachowicz, Ilir Latifi and Johnny Walker, to name a few.
Freire captured lightweight gold when he defeated Peter Queally via second-round TKO at Bellator 270 on Nov. 5. He was scheduled to make his first title defense against Sidney Outlaw at Bellator 283 but was forced to withdraw from the fight due to injury. “Pitbull” is a long-tenured Bellator athlete who has been with the organization since 2011. He has been victorious in eight of his last 10 professional outings.
Nurmagomedov, the cousin of ex-UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, is 15-0 thus far in his pro career. He is 4-0 in Bellator, including a first-round submission of Christopher Gonzalez in his last outing at Bellator 283. The 24-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product has finished 13 of his 15 triumphs inside the distance.