The Bellator cage makes its long awaited return to the Windy City as Chicago plays host to Bellator 288 on Friday, November 18.

Remarkably, the event will be the first in Chicago since 2010, when the Chicago Theatre played host to Bellator 14 and Bellator 25 in April and August, respectively.

A return to the Windy City was scheduled for Bellator 244 in June 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to that plan, and it’s taken a couple more years for the city to finally get a big-time Bellator show.

Perhaps as a nod to the long wait endured by the Chicago fight fans, Bellator president Scott Coker has stacked the deck for the event, with two championship bouts topping a busy card of fights at the Wintrust Arena.

The main event features a rematch for the Bellator light heavyweight title, and the promotion’s 205-pound Grand Prix title, as reigning champion Vadim Nemkov takes on No. 1 contender Corey Anderson.

The pair previously met at Bellator 277 in a bout that Anderson was dominating until an accidental clash of heads in the third round forced the fight to be stopped just five seconds before the end of the round. As a result, the bout was declared a no contest, and the tournament remained unfinished.

Now the pair will meet again, with both Nemkov’s title and the $1 million Grand Prix title on the line.

The co-main also features championship action, as newly-crowned lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull faces his first title defence since capturing the vacant 155-pound title against Peter Queally in Dubin at Bellator 270 last November.

Pitbull will take on undefeated Russian contender Usman Nurmagomedov who won a decision on his Bellator debut back in April 2021, but since then has reeled off a hat-trick of first-round finishes to surge into title contention at 155 pounds.

The cousin of former UFC lightweight champion and Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov has long been considered one of the most spectacular talents to come out of the Dagestan team, with Usman splitting his training time between Eagles MMA in Dagestan and American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Now he’ll get the chance to capture his first major title when he faces the seasoned Pitbull, who will look to pick up the mantle after his brother Patricio vacated the title to focus his efforts on the featherweight division.

The two championship bouts top a 16-fight card, with the full list of confirmed matchups below.

Bellator 288: Confirmed Fight Card


  • Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson – for light heavyweight title and light heavyweight Grand Prix title
  • Patricky Pitbull vs. Usman Nurmagomedov – for lightweight title
  • Daniel Weichel vs. Timur Khizriev
  • Tyrell Fortune vs. Daniel James
  • Roman Faraldo vs. Levan Chokheli


  • Otto Rodrigues vs. Khasan Askhabov
  • Imamshafi Aliev vs. Sean Fallon
  • Killys Mota vs. Jairo Pacheco
  • Jaylon Bates vs. Jornel Lugo
  • Archie Colgan vs. Jesse Hannam
  • Lucas Brennan vs. Nick Talavera
  • Sullivan Cauley vs. Jay Radick
  • Jordan Newman vs. Jayden Taulker
  • Laird Anderson vs. Rob Fenicle
  • Isiah Hokit vs. Matias Nader
  • Wladmir Gouvea vs. Kory Moegenburg