MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: Shlemenko vs. Halsey Headlines Bellator 126

Alexander Shlemenko 2Wednesday was another one of those days where very little of the news was fight related, as we discovered that ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ continues his hunt for War Machine, Jon Jones was wrestling with Alistair Overeem at the time of his injury, and Jones is now scheduled for surgery. Bellator did decide that perhaps the day’s news should include some fight announcements though. After filling out Bellator 125 yesterday with a pair of middleweight bouts, they continued the trend on Bellator 126 by booking middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko to defend his title against recent tournament winner Brandon Halsey. Shlemenko will be looking to get back on track after being dominated by Tito Ortiz on Bellator’s pay-per-view event earlier this year. Halsey will have size and wrestling advantages like Ortiz did, and his submission game seems to be progressing nicely. Those factors make this an interesting bout, but Shlemenko’s track record outside of the Ortiz bout will likely see him open as a favorite. The line won’t be nearly as long as in some of his recent title defense, but how much the public still believes in the Russian will determine where it goes from there. The co-main event on Bellator 126 is a tournament final in the lightweight division, as Marcin Held takes on Patricky Freire. This is quite the style clash, as Held is one of the most dangerous grapplers in all of MMA, while ‘Pitbull’ has tremendous power resulting in five of his six Bellator wins coming by (T)KO. The 22-year-old Held is 8-2 in the Bellator cage with six finishes (three via leg lock), and continues to make massive improvements in his game. Someone is probably getting finished in this bout, and the early lean will be towards Held given his recent momentum and the support he’s garnered from the public. The fact that Bellator featured Held in a squash match on their PPV also points to the fact that at least the old management was high on the youngster, and a win here would get Scott Coker and co on board as well. Bellator also made a bit of a splash in the women’s MMA realm, as they announced the signing of both Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd. The pair of 145ers continue the trend of Bellator taking on a strong resemblance to Coker’s last promotion, Strikeforce. It is expected that the two will fight later this year, however nothing has been scheduled as of yet. The other headline from Wednesday was Mike King flunking his post-fight drug test from UFC Fight Night 46. Not only was King on the wrong side of one of the biggest comebacks in recent memory, but now he’s also lost the $50,000 ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus he was given after the fight. To make matters worse, the organization announced yesterday that it has released him. King will have at least nine months to find somewhere else to fight, as that is the duration of his suspension for the positive nandrolone test. While not quite as expensive as Pat Healy’s positive test at UFC 159, at least Healy was able to keep his job after.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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