Photo: Chelsea Lauren [Getty Images]
Bellator MMA has the major mixed martial arts spotlight all to itself.
The Scott Coker-fronted promotion will return to the stage for the first time in more than a month, as bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell moves up to 145 pounds to lock horns with Noad Lahat in the Bellator 204 main event on Friday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In the co-headliner, undefeated prospect Logan Storley puts his 8-0 record on the line against A.J. Matthews.
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Caldwell was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at North Carolina State University, where he won a national championship in 2009. The 30-year-old Rahway, New Jersey, native has made a smooth transition to MMA, having captured the undisputed Bellator bantamweight crown while compiling a stellar 12-1 mark. Caldwell last competed at Bellator 195 on March 2, as he submitted Leandro Higo with a first-round guillotine choke.
Lahat has won three of his four bouts since parting ways with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2016. Now 34, he operates out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, and holds the rank of black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Lahat has delivered eight of his 12 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission, his resume anchored by UFC wins over Steven Siler and Niklas Backstrom.
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Bellator 204 — which airs live on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT — also features a bantamweight clash pairing SBG Ireland’s James Gallagher with Ricky Bandejas and a featherweight confrontation pitting Tywan Claxton against Cris Williams.
For those who feel the need to scratch the regional mixed martial arts itch, the Rhode Island-based CES MMA heads to 2300 Arena for CES MMA 52 on Friday in Philadelphia. Jason Norwood will square off with Jeremiah Wells for the vacant welterweight championship in the five-round headliner. Meanwhile, Team Lloyd Irvin rep Ron Stallings will tackle fellow UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell in the co-main event. AXS-TV will carry CES MMA 52 live at 9 p.m. ET.