After failing to make weight at the weigh-in on Thursday and being stripped of his middleweight title, Brandon Halsey delivered a dominating performance in the Bellator 137 main event. He may have relinquished the title, but Halsey left no doubt that he’s still the top middleweight in the Viacom-owned fight promotion by finishing Kendall Grove.
“Bull” pressed forward and quickly put Grove on his back and nearly finished the fight in the opening round with an arm-triangle choke. Grove defended the submission attempt, but spent the overwhelming majority of the round taking hammer fists to the head. Grove landed an up-kick and exploded back to his feet in the closing seconds of the frame, but Halsey dominated the round.
Grove looked to establish his jab and reach advantage in the second frame. He was effective with his striking, but Halsey secured a takedown midway through the round and delivered punches and elbows.
Halsey took Grove down within the first minute of the third stanza. He delivered a steady dose of punches and elbows before working for a neck crank. Grove escaped, but was unable to mount any kind of offense.
Halsey wobbled Grove with a right hand in the fourth round. He quickly changed levels and slammed Grove to the canvas. He postured up and delivered a series of right hands. Grove worked for an armbar, but Halsey escaped the submission attempt and landed punches until the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Had Grove won, he’d be the new middleweight titleholder. Since Halsey was the victor, the title remained vacant.
Former bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas bounced back after losing the belt to Joe Warren in his last outing by defeating Mike Richman in the co-main event at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.
Dantas rushed across the cage at the sound of the opening bell. He pressured Richman and secured a takedown. Richman got to his feet, but Dantas wasted little time putting Richman on his back a second time. Richman was able to get back to the standing position, but the opening round clearly went to Dantas.
The second round looked like a different fight. Richman defended Dantas’ takedown attempts and pressed forward as Dantas moved laterally on the outside. Richman was able to land his straight punches and after two rounds the fight was even.
Dantas secured a takedown early in the final frame. Richman worked his way back to his feet. They worked for position along the cage and the referee separated them. Dantas delivered kicks to the body while Richman landed punches. After fifteen minutes of fighting, the judges awarded Dantas the win.
In welterweight action, Fernando Gonzalez extended his winning streak to four consecutive fights by submitting Curtis Millender in the final round.
The opening round played out on the feet with Gonzalez trying to get inside Millender’s height and reach advantage. Millender worked to establish his jab while Gonzalez countered with overhand rights. Gonzalez secured a takedown late in the frame that may have stolen him the round.
Millender was the more active fighter through the first two rounds. He outworked Gonzalez and was able to secure a takedown in the second frame.
Gonzalez swept Millender off his feet with a leg kick in the early moments of the final round. As Millender stood, Gonzalez applied a guillotine choke and pulled guard to tighten it down. Millender escaped the initial submission attempt, but Gonzalez reapplied the hold and forced Millender to tap out.
After securing an early takedown, Caldwell utilized his wrestling to maintain top control for the duration of the opening round.
As Caldwell looked for a takedown in the second round, Silva worked for a guillotine choke. Caldwell defended the submission attempt and gained dominant position. Silva isolated a leg and used it to reverse Caldwell. It was a back-and-forth round that could have gone to either fighter.
Silva’s frustration showed in the final round. He urged Caldwell to exchange, but Caldwell stuck to his game plan. Caldwell tossed Silva to the canvas from the clinch position. After a minute, the referee stood the fighters up. Late in the round, Caldwell secured a takedown putting no doubt in the judges’ minds that he had won the fight.
“It feels great,” said Caldwell before dedicating the win to a close friend who recently took their own life. “I’m coming for a title shot whenever Bellator feels like they’re ready to give me a title shot. Scott Coker, I’m here to be your guy, your 135-pound bantamweight champion. Give me the opportunity and I’m going to thrive.”
Bellator 137 Results:
Main Card (Spike TV)
Brandon Halsey def. Kendall Grove by TKO (punches) at 2:25, R4
Eduardo Dantas def. Mike Richman by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Fernando Gonzalez def. Curtis Millender by submission (guillotine choke) at 1:14, R3
Darrion Caldwell def. Rafael Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Preliminary Card (Spike.tv)
Joe Taimanglo def. Antonio Duarte by KO (punch) at 1:00, R3
Jordan Parsons def. Julio Cesar Neves by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 4:09, R3
Virgil Zwicker def. Razak Al-Hassan by KO (punch) at 3:51, R1
Ricky Rainey def. Jesse Juarez by KO (knee) at 1:13, R2