Sports

U. Nurmagomedov to defend Bellator title Sept. 7

A pair of Bellator MMA title fights will headline two separate events in the month of September, promotion officials announced Tuesday.

Lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov (17-0) will defend his title against Alexander Shabliy (24-3) on Sept. 7 in the Bellator Champions Series: San Diego at Pechanga Arena. One week later, middleweight champ Johnny Eblen (15-0) will meet Fabian Edwards (13-3) in a rematch that will headline a card at the OVO Arena Wembley in London.

Nurmagomedov, cousin of retired UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, is widely regarded as one of the best 155-pound fighters on the planet. He has not fought since October. He served a six-month suspension after testing positive for a banned substance found in one of his prescribed medications. He also suffered a knee injury earlier this year.

Eblen kicked off his 2024 campaign with a split decision win over 2023 PFL champion Impa Kasanganay. The middleweight bout was more competitive than some expected going in, but Eblen kept his undefeated record alive in one of the PFL’s biggest cards of the year in Saudi Arabia.

Eblen knocked out Edwards to defend his Bellator title in September. Edwards, who is the brother of current UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards, will look to earn his revenge and win a title in his home country of England. He forced the rematch by defeating Aaron Jeffrey by decision in March.

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