LOS ANGELES – Liz Carmouche (15-7), who is No. 5 in the BELLATOR women’s pound-for-pound rankings, will face the promotion’s No. 3 ranked flyweight Kana Watanabe (10-0-1) during the co-main event of BELLATOR MMA 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky on Friday, June 25.
The BELLATOR 261 main card airs live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. A limited number of tickets starting at $60 are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster and Bellator.com.
Newly announced preliminary matchups feature a bantamweight tilt pitting Jaylon Bates (2-0) against Cody Matthews (1-1) and middleweight matchup between Taylor Johnson (6-2) and Lance Wright (5-1).
The preliminary portion of BELLATOR 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky begins at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT and will stream live on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV.
BELLATOR 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky is anchored by an interim heavyweight title bout between No. 1 ranked Timothy Johnson (15-6) and No. 3 ranked Valentin Moldavsky (10-1). A featherweight fight featuring former title challenger No. 5 ranked Daniel Weichel (40-12) against Hawaii’s undefeated Keoni Diggs (9-0) and a light heavyweight re-booking between No. 10 ranked Christian Edwards (4-0) and Ben Parrish (4-1) have also been confirmed for the main card.
Additional prelims include a lightweight bout featuring No. 6 ranked Myles Jury (19-5) versus No. 7 ranked Sidney Outlaw (15-4), a women’s strawweight fight pitting Lena Ovchynnikova (12-6, 1 NC) against Kyra Batara (8-4), a light heavyweight contest seeing Lee Chadwick (26-15-1) versus Simon Biyong (7-1), and a lightweight affair between Søren Bak (14-1) and Bobby Lee (12-5).
Carmouche is a highly skilled veteran of the sport who joined BELLATOR’s women’s flyweight division in 2019 following a six-year run in the UFC. Fighting out of San Diego, the 37-year-old Team Hurricane Awesome-product also formerly competed for Strikeforce, notching a pair of victories with the promotion. Since signing with BELLATOR, “Girl-Rilla” has rallied off two straight wins, defeating Vanessa Porto and DeAnna Bennett. Prior to Carmouche’s days as a professional athlete, the Lafayette, Louisiana-native spent five years serving as an aviation electrician in the United Stated Marine Corps, where she completed three tours of duty in the Middle East.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the cage. I plan to end this fight with a dominant finish that stamps my name as the top contender for the belt,” Carmouche said.
Undefeated through 11 professional fights, Japan’s Watanabe steps into the BELLATOR MMA cage for the third time in as many years. With frying-pan-bending strength, the 32-year-old judoka boasts an impressive 60% finishing rate and has bested fellow BELLATOR flyweights Alejandra Lara and Ilara Joanne since joining the promotion’s ranks. The No. 3 ranked flyweight is looking to make a statement of her own and stake her claim to a shot at BELLATOR’s coveted 125-pound championship.
“I am very grateful to be given another opportunity to fight during these hard times. Liz Carmouche has tons of experience and has constantly been fighting the best which makes her without a doubt one of the best in the world,” Watanabe said. “I fully respect her in every aspect and am truly honored to face such an athlete. With that being said, I am excited to take on this challenge to prove to everybody and myself that I have what it takes to become the best in the world. I want to win this fight in a convincing way, to open up the doors for a title challenge shot.”
BELLATOR MMA 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky Main Card:
9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT
Interim Heavyweight Title Main Event: #1-Tim Johnson (15-6) vs. #3-Valentin Moldavsky (10-1)
Flyweight Co-Main Event: #2- Liz Carmouche (15-7) vs. #3-Kana Watanabe (10-0-1)
Featherweight Main Card Bout: #5- Daniel Weichel (40-12) vs. Keoni Diggs (9-0)
Light Heavyweight Main Card Bout: #10- Christian Edwards (4-0) vs. Ben Parrish (4-1)
BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel | Pluto TV
5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT
Strawweight bout: Lena Ovchynnikova (12-6, 1 NC) vs. Kyra Batara (8-4)
Lightweight bout: #6-Myles Jury (19-5) vs. #7-Sidney Outlaw (15-4)
Lightweight bout: Søren Bak (14-1) vs. Bobby Lee (12-5)
Bantamweight Bout: Jaylon Bates (2-0) vs. Cody Matthews (1-1)
Middleweight Bout: Taylor Johnson (6-2) vs. Lance Wright (5-1)
Light Heavyweight Bout: Lee Chadwick (26-15-1) vs. Simon Biyong (7-1)
*Card subject to change.