Former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho is back with the promotion – at least for one more fight.
Carvalho, who was among 30 fighters to part with Bellator late last year, will return this Friday against Lorenz Larkin at Bellator 258 in Uncasville, Conn. Larkin’s original opponent, Costello van Steenis, withdrew from their bout earlier this week.
Bellator announced the fight Saturday on social media. A promotion official told MMA Junkie that Carvalho’s return is “a one-off for now.” It’s unclear how the Bellator 258 booking will affect LFA’s plans. On Friday, Carvalho was announced to headline LFA 107 one week later on May 14. A message to LFA CEO Ed Soares was not immediately returned.
Carvalho, 34, won Bellator’s 185-pound title in October 2015 with a TKO of Brandon Halsey. Carvalho (16-5 MMA, 7-4 BMMA) went on to defend it three times – part of an overall 15-fight winning streak – before losing to Gegard Mousasi by first-round TKO in May 2018 at Bellator 200. That kickstarted a downswing for Carvalho, who’s dropped four of his past five, which resulted in his release from Bellator.
But now Carvalho is back to take on Larkin. A former Bellator welterweight title challenger, Larkin (22-7 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) is moving up to middleweight for the first time in his promotional tenure. He currently rides a four-fight winning streak but hasn’t competed since December 2019.
The latest Bellator 258 lineup includes:
MAIN CARD (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET)
- Champ Juan Archuleta vs. Sergio Pettis – for bantamweight title
- Anthony Johnson vs. Yoel Romero – light heavyweight grand prix quarterfinal
- Patricky Freire vs. Peter Queally
- Derek Anderson vs. Michael Page
PRELIMINARY CARD (MMA Junkie, 6 p.m. ET)
- Rafael Carvalho vs. Lorenz Larkin
- Josh Hill vs. Raufeon Stots
- Omar Hussein vs. Logan Storley
- Weber Almeida vs. Johnny Soto
- Johnny Campbell vs. Henry Corrales
- Johnny Eblen vs. Daniel Madrid
- Erik Perez vs. Blaine Shutt
- Patchy Mix vs. Albert Morales