A host of fighters on the cusp of contention will return to action at Bellator 293 as the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula plays host to the Bellator cage for the first time since 2019.
The California venue was due to host a Bellator event back in May 2020 but the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of that show. Now, Bellator is back at the venue for a fight card packed with prospects and fringe contenders, with the action going down on Friday, March 31.
Headlining the event is a heavyweight battle between Brazil’s Marcelo Golm and American Daniel James. Former UFC heavyweight Golm has rebounded well following his UFC stint, and is currently riding a four-fight win streak, with his last two wins coming inside the Bellator cage, and finishing inside the distance.
He’ll take on “The American Predator” James, who is also on a four-fight tear. He made his Bellator debut last time out and scored an impressive second-round TKO victory over heavyweight contender Tyrell Fortune to instantly thrust himself toward the sharp end of Bellator’s heavyweight division.
Now ranked at No. 7, he’ll face No. 5-ranked Golm looking to add another notable scalp to his resume and push himself one step closer to a shot at the heavyweight title currently held by Ryan Bader.
The co-main event features a pivotal matchup in the women’s featherweight division, as Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt takes on the biggest test of her career to date.
Bellator’s No. 4-ranked featherweight contender McCourt will take on the division’s No. 1 contender and former UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano, with a potential shot at reigning women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg on the line.
On paper, Zingano is the likely next challenger for Cyborg’s 145-pound title, but “Alpha Cat” will have to defend her position from McCourt in Temecula in order to solidify her claim to a title shot. For McCourt, meanwhile, it’s the opportunity to face one of the most seasoned contenders in the division and potentially earn a title shot of her own.
Also on the main card in California, ranked middleweights will collide, as Aaron Jeffery looks to leap up the 185-pound rankings when he takes on No. 3-ranked former title challenger John Salter, while Jaleel Willis welcomes Russian welterweight contender Rustam Khabilov to the Bellator cage.
Khabilov hasn’t competed since a November 2019 win over Sergey Khandozhko in the UFC. A planned Bellator debut against Andrey Koreshkob in October 2021 fell through due to Khabilov falling ill in the lead-up to the event. But now “Tiger” is fit and well, and ready to finally make his promotional debut.
He’ll face Willis, who rebounded from back-to-back first-round submission defeats to Mukhamed Berkhamov and Sabah Homasi with a unanimous decision win over Kyle Crutchmer. With seven wins in his last nine outings, Willis will look to add Khabilov’s name to his resume as he attempts to establish himself as a threat to the division’s ranked contenders.
The main card will see two up-and-coming light heavyweight prospects kick off the action, as America’s undefeated Sullivan Cauley takes on England’s Luke Trainer.
Cauley is 5-0 as a pro, with all five wins coming inside the Bellator cage, and all five wins coming via first-round TKO. He’ll look to make it a six-pack of stoppage victories when he takes on Trainer, a six-foot-six prospect with three Bellator finishes to his name.
Bellator 293: Fight card
- Marcelo Golm vs. Daniel James
- Cat Zingano vs. Leah McCourt
- John Salter vs. Aaron Jeffery
- Jaleel Willis vs. Rustam Khabilov
- Sullivan Cauley vs. Luke Trainer
- Adam Piccolotti vs. Mandel Nallo
- Pam Sorenson vs. Sara Collins
- Joey Davis vs. Jeff Creighton
- Archie Colgan vs. Justin Montalvo
- Lucas Brennan vs. Josh San Diego
- Lance Gibson Jr vs. Vladimir Tokov
- Christian Edwards vs. Rakim Cleveland
- Mike Hamel vs. Nick Browne
- Randi Field vs. Ashley Cummins
- Bryce Meredith vs. Brandon Carrillo
- Maria Henderson vs. Mackenzie Stiller