With a pair of glaring spots open for the upcoming Bellator bantamweight grand prix, four fighters will compete next month for the opportunity to fill them.
Promotional officials confirmed to MMA Fighting on Thursday that Bellator 278 has added two bantamweight grand prix qualifying matchups. Jornel Lugo will face Danny Sabatello, while Josh Hill takes on Enrique Barzola at the April 22 event in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the two winners moving on to the tournament officially. CBS Sports first reported the changes.
The qualifier bouts will aim to fill the spots vacated by champion Sergio Pettis and James Gallagher, who were both forced out of the grand prix with injuries.
The winner of the bout between Lugo and Sabatello will face Leandro Higo in the first round of the tournament, while the Hill vs. Barzola victor will meet Magomed Magomedov in the opening round.
Lugo (8-0) is 4-0 inside the Bellator cage, including a recent win over Brian Moore this past month at Bellator 275. Sabatello will make his second Bellator appearance after spoiling the promotional debut of former UFC competitor Brett Johns at Bellator 259 this past May.
Hill, a former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, bounced back from a decision loss to Raufeon Stots this past May with a second-round KO of Jared Scoggins at December’s Bellator 272 event. Barzola made his promotional debut in his first fight outside of the UFC in January where he defeated Darion Caldwell at Bellator 273.
Bellator 278 will be headlined by a flyweight title fight between Juliana Velasquez and Liz Carmouche.