Having been about two and a half years since he made his MMA debut, middleweight Brandon Halsey has quickly adapted to the sport and become one of Bellator’s top up-and-coming fighters.
After five straight wins to start off his career, Halsey was invited to participate in Bellator’s 185-pound tournament earlier this year, which he proceeded to win.
“My first fight (against Joe Pacheco) I had a little of trouble with the weight cut and was a little lethargic, but I’m glad I got the win,” said Halsey. “It wasn’t an overall good performance because I physically didn’t feel good.
“I got my weight under control for the Brett Cooper fight and went out there and had a dominating performance and showed what I could do if I’m on my game.”
By winning the tournament, Halsey (7-0) earned a shot at current middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (50-8) on Friday in Phoenix.
Shlemenko had previously been dominant in his Bellator tenure, before being submitted by Tito Ortiz in his last fight; a fight that he took at light heavyweight in order to face the UFC Hall of Famer. Halsey intends to use this fight outcome to his advantage.
“He was exposed in that Tito Ortiz fight with a hole in his grappling game,” said Halsey of Shlemenko. “Obviously I’d like to exploit that.
“I’m a wrestler, so I want to exploit the takedowns and use it to my strengths. I’m also comfortable striking with the guy too because that’s what I’ve been training for – the worst case scenario – so I should be comfortable in any position.”
While Shlemenko has more than 50 fights more than Halsey, he doesn’t feel that it will result in any major difference in Friday’s bout itself.
“I don’t really look at it like he’s more experienced than me,” said Halsey. “I’ve been wrestling for years. I’ve been doing combat sports for years.
“You can say because he’s got more fights, he has more experience, but I don’t think that’s going to play a factor (in the fight). I’m going to use my strength, my power and athleticism, and I think it will be too much for him.”
While taking the Bellator title in Phoenix would be a major accomplishment for Halsey, it’s not the end of the road but rather the start of the path he wants to take towards his ultimate goal.
“I’m on my way to climb the mountain, and this is just part of the way of climbing the mountain and being the best pound-for-pound fighter,” said Halsey. “Winning a world title it’s going to be a significant accomplishment and exciting.
“I like to dream big. If you’re going to dream, dream big or not at all. That’s my goal: to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”