A labrum injury has forced Rob Emerson to pull out of his Bellator 97 bout against Patricio Pitbull and replacing Emerson will be Jared Downing.
Bellator officials announced the changed on Friday afternoon and the bout will take place on the main card of the July 31st card in New Mexico.
Bellator 97 takes place from the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and will be headlined by Michael Chandler defending the Bellator lightweight title against David Rickels.
“It takes a ton of heart to accept a fight less than 20 days out, especially when you have to step in the cage with one of the most dangerous men in the world in Pitbull,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Jared is a guy we’ve had our eye on for a while and win or lose, he’ll make a great addition to our featherweight ranks.”
Downing (9-2) has been in the Bellator cage before as he won two fights in the promotion in 2010. He most recently competed at RFA 8 and lost a split decision to Lance Palmer for the promotions featherweight title. Before his last fight, he had won three in a row with all of the wins coming by decision.
“This is a great opportunity for me, one I couldn’t pass up,” Downing said. “I’m happy to be back with Bellator and really start a new chapter. I thought Patricio won his last fight against Curran, so I know I’m going to be getting one of the best featherweights in the world, and that’s why I signed with Bellator. I want to get this win, make my way into a tournament and become a Bellator World Champion.”
The current Bellator 97 card is below:
Main Card: (Spike TV – 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT)
Michael Chandler (11-0) vs. David Rickels (14-1) – LW Title
Ben Askren (11-0) vs. Andrey Koreschkov (13-0) – WW Title
Muhammed Lawal (10-2, 1NC) vs. Jacob Noe (12-2) – LHW Tourney Final
Ryan Martinez (10-2) vs. Vitaly Minakov (11-0) – HW Tourney Final
Patricio Pitbull (17-2) vs. Jared Downing (9-2)
Preliminary Card: (Bellator.com – 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT)
Cris Leyva (9-5) vs. Will Brooks (9-1)
Rafael Silva (19-3) vs. Rodrigo Lima (11-1) – BW Tourney Semifinal
Anthony Leone (12-5) vs. Frank Baca (16-2) – BW Tourney Semifinal
Mike Barreras (5-6) vs. Bubba Jenkins (3-0)
Javier Palacios (1-0) vs. Richard Jacques (1-0)
Jeremy Kimball (9-3) vs. Keith Berry (15-10)
Adrian Cruz (4-0) vs. Felipe Chavez (5-3)
Steve Garcia (1-0) vs. Shawn Bunch (1-0)