For Bellator middleweight Brandon Halsey, 2014 couldn’t have gone any better.
After starting off the year by winning the promotion’s middleweight tournament, Halsey dethroned reigning champion Alexander Shlemenko in just 35 seconds to claim his first major championship.
Halsey was confident he could win the bout due to his familiarity with Shlemenko, but didn’t think it was going to end so quickly.
“I’d trained with Shlemenko quite a bit,” said Halsey. “He used to come into the gym at Ultimate Fitness to work out. So I kind of had a feel for him. We kind of predicted the fight would go that way.
“Did we think it would end in 35 seconds? Probably not. We thought it would stretch out a bit more than that, but the game plan went as predicted.”
Though he is happy with his performance, Halsey told MMAWeekly.com that there’s still a ways to go before he’s reached his full potential.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “I’ve been in the game such a short time, so the improvement that I’ve made I’m happy with, but there’s always more I can do. So I’m always trying to get quicker, stronger and better.”
Halsey (8-0) will make the first defense of his Bellator 185-pound title on May 15 in Temecula, Calif., against fellow middleweight tournament participant Kendall Grove (21-14, 1 NC) in the evening’s main event.
“I’ve been working to better myself every day and I feel I’m more dominant than anybody in the Bellator middleweight division,” said Halsey. “I don’t see anywhere (Grove) can out-gun me. What I expect in this match is to just keep pressuring him and not allow him to breathe.
“I just want to be able to dominate the division. Put some space between myself and everybody and just improve technically and outclass everybody in each upcoming fight.”
After having such a great year in 2014, Halsey is looking to continue to build off his success and become a fighter for the ages in years to come.
“It was a goal to get the Bellator belt and kind of build off that,” he said. “It happened early in my career, so to continue to build off this is one of the best things ever to do and just make my mark.
“There’s more to lose now, so there’s more pressure, but I don’t let it get to me. I kind of ride the wave of being the champ and take pride in that I don’t let it get to me. Everyone wants what they can’t have – and that’s this belt – but it’s not leaving me for a long time.”