LOS ANGELES – To honor the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, Bellator MMA has partnered with the USO to present a special live event free for the troops, along with their friends and families, on December 14.
“Having worked with the Army Combatives Program to evaluate and update their combat readiness, I have long respected the military and their courage,” said Royce Gracie, MMA Legend and Bellator Ambassador. “When I found out we were doing an event in Hawaii, knowing the large military population there, I knew we had to show our support and appreciation through MMA.”
Bellator President Scott Coker is proud of this new relationship with USO and is eager to show his support to the brave service men and women.
“The USO is a historic military support organization – not just in entertainment but in connecting them back to the things they love and fight for,” said Coker. “It made perfect sense for Bellator to establish a relationship with the USO and provide a unique opportunity to Hawaii’s military population. We appreciate their service to the nation, and we hope this is just the first of many opportunities for us to work together.”
Emanating from the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, this unique show will be headlined by a title fight featuring current lightweight champ Brett Primus (8-0) against two-time former titlist Michael Chandler (18-4), while heavyweight icon Frank Mir (18-12) meets Javy Ayala (10-7) in a heavyweight clash.
Bellator and USO Present: Salute the Troops will air on Paramount Network on Friday, December 14 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT and will be simulcast on CMT. The event will also stream LIVE on DAZN, while preliminary bouts will stream on Bellator.com and globally on the Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts will be announced in coming weeks.
Reigning champ Brent Primus puts both his title and undefeated streak on the line in a highly anticipated rematch for the Bellator lightweight title. After upsetting Chandler last year, the Eugene, Ore.-native has since battled injuries that have delayed his return to the cage. Now, he looks to silence the critics and prove that he is the rightful and deserving 155-pound champion. One of the most-decorated fighters in Bellator history, Michael Chandler has plans to reclaim the championship and become a three-time titleholder. “Iron” has defeated a who’s who among the division’s elite, including Benson Henderson, Patricky Pitbull (x2), Goiti Yamauchi and Eddie Alvarez. The former University of Missouri wrestler, who now calls Nashville home, has earned his way back to No. 1-contender status with his sights set on leaving Hawaii with the belt.
Former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir returns to the Bellator cage following his exciting back-and-forth battle with Fedor Emelianenko last spring. With career wins over Roy Nelson, Antonio “Big Nog” Nogueira (x2), Brock Lesnar and Mirko Cro Cop, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt looks for another impressive victory to add to his illustrious career. After shocking the world when he KO’d Sergei Kharitonov, Javy Ayala become an overnight sensation to MMA fans. Known to fans as “Eye Candy,” the heavyweight has also impressively defeated Eric Prindle and Raphael Butler. Fighting out of Porterville, Calif., Ayala returns hoping to yet again shock the world and defeat one of the greatest heavyweights in MMA history.
This unforgettable night will be part of an historic weekend culminating with the previously announced Bellator Hawaii on Saturday, December 15, airing exclusively on DAZN. This highly-anticipated fight card includes Bellator women’s flyweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her title against Valérie Létourneau, Lyoto Machida making his Bellator debut against former champ Rafael Carvalho, Neiman Gracie taking on Ed Ruth in an opening round matchup in the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix and much more.
Bellator and the USO will also partner for a week of special events in Hawaii leading up to the big weekend of exciting fights on December 14 and 15. More details to come soon.
Updated Bellator and USO Present: Salute the Troops Fight Card:
Lightweight World Title Main Event: Brent Primus (8-0) vs. Michael Chandler (18-4)
Heavyweight Main Card Bout: Frank Mir (18-12) vs. Javy Ayala (10-7)