Sergio Pettis produced arguably the biggest statement of his MMA career as he claimed a clear unanimous decision win over pound-for-pound star Patricio Pitbull to retain his bantamweight title at Bellator 297.

Pettis and Pitbull faced off for the 135-pound title in the co-main event in Chicago, as Pitbull made his bid for history as the first fighter to capture major MMA titles in three different weight classes.

The narrative was the main discussion point ahead of the event, with former lightweight and current featherweight champion Pitbull receiving the lion’s share of the attention. But on fight night it was the defending bantamweight champ who made all the noise as he comfortably outworked, outstruck, and outmaneuvered Pitbull through the full five-round championship duration to earn scores of 49-46, 50-45, 50-45 from the cageside judges at Wintrust Arena.

It meant that Pettis retained his title in dominant fashion as he scored a huge, and definitive, victory over the man widely considered to be Bellator’s number-one pound-for-pound fighter.

Pitbull had come into the bout confident in his ability to first make the weight, then defeat Pettis. But, despite appearing to negotiate his weight cut without too many issues, he had no answer to Pettis’ speed, timing, and movement during the fight itself.

It means the Brazilian is likely to return to 145 pounds, where he still holds the Bellator title. And, if his brother Patricio is dethroned during the course of the promotion’s Lightweight World Grand Prix tournament, it’s more than likely that he’ll look to make the jump back up to challenge for the 155-pound title he never lost inside the cage. If his old rival AJ McKee ends up winning the Grand Prix, that outcome would seem even more likely.

But for now, any potential matchmaking headaches from having a multi-division champion have been put on hold, with Pettis letting the world know that he’s the king at 135 pounds.

The night’s main event saw light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov continue his reign at 205 pounds with a lop-sided victory over Yoel Romero.

Nemkov never looked in trouble as he dominated the majority of the five-round duration to earn scores of 49-46 on all three scorecards and further separate himself from the pack at 205 pounds.

His likely next challenger may have come from the third main card bout of the night, where Corey Anderson defeated former champion Phil Davis via split decision to keep himself in the title conversation, and in line for a potential title rematch with Nemkov later this year.

The main card kicked off with a big win from Gokhan Saricam, who outworked hard-hitting contender Daniel James to earn a shutout win on the scorecard, with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27 in his favor.

Bellator 297: Official results


  • Vadim Nemkov def. Yoel Romero via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
  • Sergio Pettis def. Patricio Pitbull via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)
  • Corey Anderson def. Phil Davis via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Gokhan Saricam def. Daniel James via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


  • Wladmir Gouvea def. Gabriel Sayeg via knockout (strikes) – Round 1, 0:20
  • Kyle Crutchmer def. Bobby Nash via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:42
  • Mike Hamel def. Shamil Nikaev via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Karl Moore def. Alex Polizzi via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Timur Khizriev def. Richie Smullen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Gadzhi Rabadanov def. Pieter Buist via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Ramazan Kuramagomedov def. Jaleel Willis via knockout (knee) – Round 1, 1:24
  • Norbert Novenyi Jr. def. Kamil Oniszczuk via knockout (strikes) – Round 1, 0:46
  • Archie Colgan def. Emmanuel Sanchez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jordan Newman def. Matthew Perry via submission (Americana) – Round 1, 4:20
  • Cody Law def. Edwin Chavez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Photos: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA