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Bellator MMA is back in a big way. The promotion returned with its debut card for 2021 on April 2 and saw two-division champion Patricio Pitbull defend his featherweight crown with a first-round submission of Emmanuel Sanchez. The win sets up a massive fight later this year against top contender AJ McKee in the World Featherweight Grand Prix final that also has $1 million up for grabs.

Now, Bellator turns right back around for its next event -- and kicks off another tournament. Bellator 256 will see the start of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix with former champion and current heavyweight king Ryan Bader in action against Lyoto Machida. Plus, Corey Anderson, fresh off a successful promotional debut, takes on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in another matchup of the tournament.

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Then in May, bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta returns to make his first title defense against top contender Sergio Pettis. That card also marks the promotional debuts of Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Yoel Romero when the two square off in the first round of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Be sure to check back in on this page to stay up to date on the upcoming Bellator events throughout the remainder of the year.

Upcoming Bellator MMA schedule

EventDateMain eventWeight classLocationTV
Bellator 256April 9Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto MachidaLight Heavyweight World Grand Prix Opening RoundUncasville, ConnecticutShowtime
Bellator 257April 16Vadim Nemkov (c) vs. Phil DavisLight Heavyweight World Grand Prix Opening Round -- Light heavyweight title 
Uncasville, ConnecticutShowtime
Bellator 258May 7Juan Archuleta (c) vs. Sergio PettisBantamweight titleUncasville, ConnecticutShowtime
Bellator 259May 21Cris Cyborg (c) vs. Leslie SmithWomen's featherweight titleUncasville, ConnecticutShowtime