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Patricio Freire vs Emmanuel Sanchez championship rematch set for Bellator 255 on April 2 on Showtime

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Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Bellator MMA has big plans for its return to the combat space in 2021 with the announcement of its Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, which features several interesting first round matchups such as Yoel Romero taking on Anthony Johnson, as well as a rematch between Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida.

Before all of that happens, however, the promotion — which also announced an exclusive television deal with Showtime — is looking to continue its Featherweight Grand Prix, which kicked off in early 2020 and was put on pause because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

During a special press conference to announce its upcoming plans (video replay here), Bellator announced that reigning 145-pound champion, Patricio Freire, would face off against Emmanuel Sanchez in the semifinals of the tournament at Bellator 255 on April 2, 2021.

“Pitbull” — who also holds the promotion’s Lightweight title — defeated Sanchez at Bellator 209 in 2018. Sanchez eventually earned his way back to a rematch against the “champ-champ” by taking out Tywan Claxton in the opening round, and then defeating Daniel Weichel in the quarterfinals.

Freire, on the other hand, defeated Juan Archuleta in the opening round of the Grand Prix, and followed it up with a devastating knockout over Pedro Carvalho in Nov. 2020 in the quarterfinals.

For more on that rematch — as well as the rest of Bellator MMA’s big plans for 2021 — click here.