Oh, what could have been. Bellator's latest offering was scheduled to have a five-round title fight on top, with a top contender bout in the co-main event slot and some prospects in the other main card slots. While all of the actual fights are still set to go, the stakes are a lot lower for the two top bouts. And one man is a champion no more.
Brandon Halsey won three fights at light heavyweight in Bellator before dropping to 185 pounds to enter their season ten mini-middleweight tournament. He picked up a quick submission win over Brett Cooper to win that tourney, and the right to face off with long-time champ Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 126 in September. Halsey won the title in just 35 seconds. He looked to be a major-league fighter for the promotion.
Now we fast forward to the present. Halsey, despite saying on social media that his weight cut was "too easy", managed to miss the middleweight limit by over three pounds. He was forced to forfeit the title by the promotion due to this.
So what will happen tonight? The fight between Halsey and challenger Kendall Grove will go on at a catchweight of 188.1 pounds. If Grove wins, he's the new champ. If Halsey wins, the belt is vacant. So while there is still some intrigue, a lot of the relevance is gone.
In terms of the fight, I'd be leaning Halsey anyway. He's still a massive favorite. His wrestling is going to give Grove fits, and he has a size and strength advantage as well. Grove's long and has some tricky jiu-jitsu, but this is still Halsey all day to me.
In the co-main event, Eduardo Dantas was scheduled to fight Mike Richman in a top contender's bout at bantamweight. Like Halsey, Richman missed weight, coming in at 139.2 pounds. Originally Dantas decided not to take the fight due to that, but the camps re-negotiated and the fight will now go forward. In other words, Dantas is likely getting a sizable chunk of Richman's purse.
Like the title fight, I don't think the weight will matter all that much - Dantas is the clear favorite in my eyes. He's very well-rounded and while he'll be giving up some size, I don't think Richman will be able to get to his chin. I'd say Dantas wins a comfortable decision.
In another main card fight, Curtis Millender will look to get back on track after a loss to Brennan Ward when he takes on veteran welterweight Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez has won three in a row, defeating Karl Amoussou, Karo Parisyan, and Marius Zaromskis.
The opening main card bout is the best fight of the show in my eyes. Top wrestling prospect Darrion Caldwell (6-0, 3-0 Bellator) gets a big step up in competition when he takes on Rafael Silva (22-4, 3-1 Bellator). This is Caldwell's debut at 135, and he's in tough against a well-rounded vet that suffered his only loss of the last four years to former Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren.
The show airs live on Spike TV tonight, with the main card kicking off at 9pm ET/6pm PT.