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Benson Henderson vs. Patricio Freire headlines Bellator, boxing double event

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mixed martial arts and boxing will join forces next month when Bellator and Premier Boxing Champions stage a doubleheader event on back-to-back days, Aug. 26-27, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., with the Aug. 26 Bellator card headlined by the lightweight return of former UFC champion Benson Henderson against ex-Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire.

On the boxing side of things, Robert Guerrero will take on David Peralta on a Aug. 27 card that also features Alfredo Angulo vs. Freddy Hernandez and Terrell Gausha vs. Steve Martinez. The Los Angeles Times first reported the story on Saturday.

"We believe combat sports fans love a great fight," Spike TV executive Jon Slusser told the Times. "These are two different types of fights, but if we can introduce more fans to each sport, that does nothing but great things for everyone."

The announcement marks a new step for Henderson (23-6), who returns to the lightweight division for the first time since Jan. 2015.

A former UFC champion who defended his 155-pound title three times, tying the record also held by B.J. Penn, Henderson is one the most decorated fighters to leave the UFC for Bellator. He fell short in his Bellator debut in April, losing to Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov, however he holds a slew of notable victories over top names at lightweight, including Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez, and Josh Thomson.

Freire (25-3), on the other hand, is one of the most successful fighters on the Bellator roster.

A former featherweight champion, "Pitbull" has won 13 of his 15 fights inside the Bellator cage, a run highlighted by a wins over Pat Curran and Daniel Straus, as well as a pair of wins over UFC contender Wilson Reis. Freire lost his 145-pound title in a rematch against Straus last year, but rebounded in April with a second-round win over Henry Corrales.

Freire now moves up to lightweight, with the winner between he and Henderson expected to be in pole position for the next Bellator lightweight title shot.

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