After this Friday, Bellator may finally have the opportunity to move forward in their bantamweight division. The organization’s 135lb title hasn’t been defended since March 2015 because the main event of Bellator 156 has already fallen apart on two occasions. Champion Marcos Galvao is once again set to square off with his former protege Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator bantamweight title. The two actually met back in 2013, when Dantas was the champion, and Galvao was knocked out in the second round. That was the last time Galvao suffered defeat however, as he has captured four straight victories since. First, he won a Bellator tournament, then defeated champion Joe Warren (who had unseated Dantas in 2014) by kneebar to claim the title. Dantas has been far less active since his last meeting with Galvao, and his career has definitely taken on a different trajectory since a 2012 KO loss to Tyson Nam down in Brazil. Injuries, including concussions, have limited him to just three fights since the beginning of 2014, one of which saw him drop his title to Warren. He rebounded with a decision victory over Mike Richman, and has been stuck in the endless loop of rebooking this Galvao fight since. The co-main event should turn into a nice striking battle between Chidi Njokuani and Thiago Goncalves. Njokuani seems to finally be putting his skills together into a package that’s difficult for any opponent to deal with, and he’s undefeated in his last six bouts as a result. Jambo has found similar success lately, winning six of his last seven bouts. The main card of Bellator 156 also features former middleweight champion Brandon Halsey looking to rebound from the first loss of his career against UFC veteran John Salter. Halsey dropped his title when was stopped by a body kick from Rafael Carvalho back in October. Salter has been out of action for nearly 18 months, but submitted Dustin Jacoby in his last outing for Bellator. In a similar situation to Halsey, Chris Honeycutt hopes to continue climbing up the rankings after his first loss in MMA. The All-American was shockingly knocked out by Paul Bradley in January in what was a grudge match following a no contest the two had six months prior. Honeycutt earned a decision over Matt Secor in April, and now steps up to middleweight to take on Mikkel Parlo who has earned a pair of wins since being stopped by Brennan Ward back in 2013. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the main card of Bellator 156 today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Looking at their ages, you would expect that Eduardo Dantas (27), not Marcos Galvao (34) would be in the best form of his career. However, Dantas has struggled of late with anyone willing to grapple with him. In some cases (like against Anthony Leone) he can still manage of the virtuoso stuff we saw early in his career, and in other spots (like against Joe Warren) he simply can’t find that one moment. If Marcos Galvao turns this into a grappling match — which he would be foolish not to — he has the wrestling to get on top and the BJJ skills to avoid any sort of submission threat from Dantas. On the feet, Dantas is still the better striker, but is more hesitant after being knocked out and suffering some long-term concussion issues from it. It’s close, but if I can get a line similar to their last fight (just under 2-to-1 for Galvao) I may bite. Chidi Njokuani is bigger, a better striker, and has shown takedown defense recently which has stopped much better wrestlers than Thiago Goncalves. This is going to be a tough one for the Brazilian, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him suffer the first stoppage loss since his MMA debut all the way back in 2004. Normally, John Salter wants to wrestle. Unfortunately for him, he’s going up against an opponent who has him outmatched in that department. Brandon Halsey is a massive middleweight with good striking and submission skills once he gets on top, and he’s far more likely to get top position than Salter. On the feet, Halsey is still very much a work in progress. While Salter isn’t known for his striking, keeping the fight up early and hoping Halsey tires a bit may be his best chance for victory, and that’s not a great chance. Normally, I wouldn’t like the move up to 185 for Chris Honeycutt, but he’s not giving up anything in the height/reach department against Mikkel Parlo, and Honeycutt will still be the better wrestler, so it makes sense. The closest comparison to this fight on Parlo’s record is his decision loss to Sultan Aliev, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this fight play out similarly. Honeycutt shouldn’t have any illusions that he should play around on the feet here. He should establish his wrestling early and wear Parlo down for a late stoppage or decision.