Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler is slated to meet flashy UFC and PRIDE veteran Akihiro Gono in a three-round non-title "superfight" at Bellator 67, scheduled for Friday, May 4 at the Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada.
Bellator officials confirmed the headlining match-up on Wednesday.
Bellator 67 broadcasts live on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX. The night's preliminary card will stream online at Spike.com.
The announcement marks Chandler's (9-0) first appearance since his electrifying title-winning performance against Eddie Alvarez last November, which capped the end of a stunning run through Season 4's lightweight tournament. The 25-year-old former Division I wrestler dispatched Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, and Patricky Freire in succession, before upsetting the then-champion with a fourth-round rear-naked choke in a contest many outlets considered to be the "Fight of the Year."
Now just three years into his professional MMA career, Chandler has become a fixture on top-ten rankings and remains undefeated with seven stoppage wins.
"I'm just excited to get back into the cage," he said. "I fought four times in 2011 and I'm ready to get back to work. Gono has beaten some of the best fighters in the sport and this should be a good test for me."
Meanwhile, Gono (32-17-7) climbs back into the cage after recently ending a 17-month leave of absence with a decision loss to Daisuke Nakamura. Known as one of MMA's greatest showmen, the 37-year-old has competed for a litany of promotions while picking up notable wins over Gegard Mousasi, Hayato Sakurai, and Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard.
Though Gono's stock has fallen of late, as the fighter tasted defeat in five of his last eight contests, including a current two-fight losing streak.