Patricio Freire-Pedro Carvalho title bout headlines return of Bellator MMA featherweight grand prix

Bellator MMA announced on Thursday that it will resume its featherweight grand prix next month, starting with Patricio Freire defending his 145-pound championship in a grand prix quarterfinal against Pedro Carvalho in the main event of Bellator 252 on Nov. 12.

Freire, who competes under the nickname "Pitbull," is No. 4 in the ESPN men's featherweight rankings. The fight card also includes an additional quarterfinal between Emmanuel Sanchez and Daniel Weichel.

Bellator also announced that it will hold an event a week later, Bellator 253 on Nov. 19, headlined by a grand prix semifinal between A.J. McKee and former bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell.

Last October, the 16-0 McKee was named the top MMA fighter under age 25 by an ESPN panel. McKee turned 25 in April.

Both of these events will be at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, kicking off a run of four fight cards there in four weeks. The tournament has been on pause since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.