Chidi Njokuani is jumping up a division to put his weight cutting troubles behind him and get back on the winning track.
The former welterweight is headed to middleweight to face striking specialist Hisaki Kato at Bellator 189 on Dec. 1 at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. Officials confirmed the booking to MMA Fighting following an initial report by CBS Sports.
Njokuani’s move up to 185 pounds comes as little surprise given his history of weight cutting problems. The 28-year-old has not competed at 170 pounds in his last three fights, missing weight twice and once agreeing to a 180-lb catchweight bout. He recently told MMA Fighting that he’d be eager to join a division in between welterweight and middleweight.
“That would be perfect,” said Njokuani. “I’ve been saying this for my whole career, like if I got five more pounds that I could get away with, it would be the perfect weight class. If they do have 175, then I’d love it.”
While there have been recent talks of promotions adding more divisions to accommodate fighters like Njokuani who don’t feel that they’re an ideal fit for the existing weight classes, Bellator has not made any changes in that regard.
Other than his struggles with the scale, Njokuani was putting together a strong resume in the Bellator cage, going 4-0 for the promotion before losing by first-round TKO to former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 182 in August. His professional record stands at 17-5 with one no-contest.
Kato (8-2) has participated in both Bellator’s MMA and kickboxing divisions. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak with victories over Ralek Gracie, A.J. Matthews, and Yuta Watanabe, with the latter bout taking place in Japan for the Rizin Fighting Federation. In his lone Bellator Kickboxing appearance, Kato defeated Joe Schilling by second-round KO via spinning backfist.