Bellator expand BW division, Dantas defends title agianst Higo
Bellator MMA take an interesting step with bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 177 as he defends the title against former LFA champion Leandro Higo. Bellator 177 takes place April 14th at the Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary with six kickboxing bouts, one MMA fight webcast at Spike.com, and four MMA fight broadcast on Spike TV.
Ever since Scott Coker took over Bellator the emphasis has switched away from tournaments providing a clear path to title fights. Now the emphasis is signing UFC vets to cash in on pre-existing fan bases which is great for ratings and provides better fights but the downside is the rankings and the paths to the belts are unclear at best. If Benson Henderson or Josh Thomson lose then who is next for the champions? The bantamweight division in particular has been rather stagnant with champion Eduardo Dantas’ last two fights being rematches against Marcos Galvao and Joe Warren. Now Bellator is finally doing something about the divisions where they haven’t yet signed UFC stars but instead of building talent from scratch they are at least for Dantas’ title defense bringing in a solid up-and-comer from outside in the form of a AXS TV promotion champion.
Eduardo Dantas is on his second term as Bellator’s bantamweight champion with this stretch being from June 2016 when he took the belt from Marcos Galvao through his defense against Joe Warren to whom Dantas originally lost the belt. As stated about both were rematches with the loss to Warren in their first meeting being Dantas’ only loss in Bellator over his 19-4 career. Leandro Higo enters this bout 9-2 with a four-win streak dating back to August 2015. After losing to Bruno Korea in TUF Brasil Season 4 Higo entered RFA where he defeated Terrion Ware, Melvin Blumer, and Joey Miolla with the Miolla fight earning Higo the belt in that promotion. Once RFA merged with LFC to form LFA Higo won the inaugural bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Steven Peterson in January.
In the co-main event former featherweight title challenger Daniel Weichel faces UFC vet John Teixeira. Weichel won Bellator’s Season 10 tournament but lost the resulting title fight to then-champion Patricio Freire in June 2015. Weichel bounced back to defeat Georgi Karakhanyan, Emmanuel Sanchez, and Brian Moore to stand 38-9. Teixeira is best known as a UFC vet however that experience consisted of a loss to Hugo Viana by split decision at UFC 147 in June 2013. Since that UFC loss Teixeira picked up nine wins and a draw with a Bellator record of 5-0, the slight downside being all five were by decision. In his last outing Teixeira defeated Justin Lawrence by unanimous decision at Bellator 167 in December.
Bellator may be signing UFC vets left and right while now expanding the divisions but the undercards are still rather throwaway. This card like the international cards so far consists mostly of kickboxing bouts with the sole MMA fight to be webstreamed at Spike.com being Brian Moore vs. Ludovit Klein. Hopefully next on Bellator’s agenda will be to strengthen the undercards as the UFC has done.
- FW: Brian Moore vs. Ludovit Klein
- Flyweight: Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Helen Harper
- FW: Adam Borics vs. Anthony Taylor
- FW: Daniel Weichel vs. John Teixeira
- BW title: Eduardo Dantas vs. Leandro Higo