Following a lengthy battle to get the sport legalized in France, Bellator MMA announced Friday it will become the first promoter to stage a mixed martial arts event in the country when it presents Bellator Paris on Oct. 10.
The 13-bout card, which will feature an additional three boxing matches, will emanate from Accor Arena in Paris following the nation's decision in January to repeal a four-year ban by France's Ministry of Sports. A limited number of fans (no more than 5,000, per an ESPN report) will be allowed entry into the arena amid coronavirus precautions.
Bellator Paris will be headlined by heavyweights Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC) and Tim Johnson (14-6). The 45-year-old Kongo, a UFC veteran and native of Paris, fought to a no contest for Ryan Bader's Bellator heavyweight title last September after running off an eight-fight win streak.
In the co-main event, welterweight star Michael "Venom" Page (17-1) will look for his fourth straight win against former Cage Warriors standout Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC), who will be making his Bellator debut.
"This is a monumental moment in the history of the sport, as well as our organization, and I am honored that Bellator will promote the very first MMA event in France by a major promotion," Bellator president Scott Coker said. "Many people have worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, as well as the French Kickboxing Federation sanctioning body.
"I would also like to thank Accor Arena, who have been an incredible venue partner, and I cannot wait for the French fans to be in attendance and join us live for what will be an unforgettable night of action in Paris on Oct. 10."
The fight card will be regulated by the French Boxing Federation, which is responsible for the implementation of MMA in the country.
"If I made the choice to initiate a delegation procedure for MMA, it was for its recognition; it is to liberate, supervise and develop its practice," Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu said. "This is a turning point in the history of French sport, as MMA is a discipline that is enjoying growing success, proven by these events capable of bringing together thousands of people and attracting millions of spectators."