Quinton Jackson theoretically should be next in line to fight Bellator light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton, but Rampage made it clear a few months ago that he wouldn't fight Newton, citing a lack of interest in wanting the belt and the fact that he shares the same coach with him. So with Rampage/Newton squashed, Newton needed someone to make his first title defense against.
That's where Joey Beltran steps in.
Yes, Bellator has announced that "The Mexicutioner" will fight Newton in the main event of Bellator 124 on September 12th in Michigan. Beltran (15-10, 1 NC) lost his promotional debut to Rampage by TKO, but picked up a surprise north-south choke win on Vladimir Matyushenko, who retired after the fight. Beltran is 2-5, 1 NC in his last 8 fights, which includes a failed drug test that stripped him of a win against Igor Pokrajace in the UFC.
Newton (23-7-1) famously knocked out King Mo last year in one of the biggest upsets of the year, and then after winning the season 8 tournament, he beat King Mo again by decision for the interim title. The 30-year-old unified the belt with Attila Vegh, winning a split decision against the Slovakian to become the undisputed champion. Newton has won 5 in a row, with a prior tournament loss to Vegh standing as his only defeat.
This is ... definitely a fight that's happening. The Bellator LHW roster is arguably its weakest division, and nearly everyone is coming off a loss or is unlikely to be ready to fight on September 12th. However, Tom DeBlass has won 2 in a row and is scheduled to fight King Mo on September 5th, and Sokoudjou -- don't laugh -- is 1-0 in Bellator and has a win over recent UFC signing Jan Blachowicz. I find it really really hard to believe that Joey Beltran was seriously the best/only option to fight Newton, but here we are with news that a fighter with 2 wins in his last 8 and a positive steroid test is competing for a title in the sport's #2 promotion.
Also on the card is the LHW tournament final between undefeated English prospect Liam McGeary and Kelly Anundson, with the winner well set to fight the winner of Newton vs. Beltran.