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Rafael Carvalho vs. Chidi Njokuani targeted for Bellator 224

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Rafael Carvalho (left) lost a split decision to Lyoto Machida in Hawaii.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will return to action on July 12, taking on Chidi Njokuani at Bellator 224 in Thackerville, Okla., multiple sources told MMA Fighting.

Carvalho (15-3) reigned as 185-pound champion between 2015 and 2018, but lost his belt to Gegard Mousasi in May 2018. He attempted to get back on track against former UFC star Lyoto Machida, but lost a split decision in December.

The Brazilian middleweight, unbeaten in his first six Bellator appearances, holds stoppage victories over names like Alessio Sakara, Melvin Manhoef and Brandon Halsey.

Njokuani (18-6, 1 no-contest) lost via first-round submission to John Salter in his last Bellator bout in November. The 30-year-old talent, a former RFA welterweight champion, holds a 5-2 record in Bellator, being 1-1 since moving up to 185 pounds.

Younger brother of UFC veteran Anthony Njokuani, “Chidi Bang Bang” defeated Hisaki Kato via decision in his middleweight debut before losing to Salter.

Bellator 223 will take place at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville. In the main event, Julia Budd defends the featherweight championship versus undefeated Olga Rubin.