Brandon Halsey is no longer Bellator MMA's middleweight champion -- but at least he's still undefeated.
Halsey (9-0) maintained his perfect professional record in dominant fashion on Friday, defeating Kendall Grove via TKO at the 2:25 mark of the fourth round. The fight headlined Bellator 137 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.
The five-round bout was supposed to be for Halsey's 185-pound belt, but the 28-year-old missed weight by 3 pounds on Thursday. He was forced to vacate the title as a result.
Although a belt was no longer on the line, Halsey did not appear to suffer from a lack of motivation. He nearly finished Grove (21-15) in the first round with an arm triangle choke, after taking him down in the opening 30 seconds. Grove eventually escaped the submission but absorbed a long series of unanswered elbows to the side of the head.
Later in the round, Halsey surprisingly leaned back on a leglock attempt, giving up top control in the process. It proved to be a low-risk move, however, as the former collegiate wrestler simply sat up and muscled Grove to his back when the submission failed.
Grove managed to fit in a few shots early in the second frame, but he again struggled to defend Halsey's power double leg. Halsey took him down again in the opening minute of the third round, which proved to be one of his best. He took Grove's back and threatened to end the fight via neck crank, before settling for more thudding shots to the side of the head.
Things went from bad to worse at the start of the fourth round, as a tired Grove couldn't defend himself from two big overhand rights. With Grove dazed, Halsey dropped for a double leg and dumped him on the canvas. Grove threw one final Hail Mary near the end of the fight, attacking Halsey with an armbar off his back, but Halsey eventually finished with strikes.
The Bellator middleweight title will now remain vacant, as Halsey was ineligible to reclaim it due to missing weight. For Halsey, the fight marked his third consecutive finish. Grove, 32, drops to 3-2 in his last five fights.
Dantas edges Richman for unanimous decision win
Dantas (17-4) survived a nasty cut over the left eye in the third round and did just enough to earn unanimous 29-28 scores. ESPN.com also scored the fight 29-28 for Dantas.
The bout nearly didn't happen, as Richman (18-6) missed weight by 3 pounds during Thursday's official weigh-in. The two camps eventually came to terms to salvage the fight.
Fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Dantas got off to a scorching start, as he landed a swift right kick to the body, followed by a successful double leg takedown inside the opening five seconds. Richman eventually worked back to his feet but he appeared out of rhythm in the early going, as he was forced to fight off multiple takedown attempts.
Richman's confidence grew in the middle frame, however, as he started stuffing Dantas' takedowns at will, while landing the left hand. Dantas answered on the feet with short counter shots, including a well-timed uppercut late in the round, but the failed takedowns started to add up and affect the former champ's gas tank.
In the final round, Dantas scored a key takedown, set up by a spinning backfist that temporarily froze Richman. With two minutes remaining in the fight, Richman wrestled back to his feet and caught Dantas coming in on a double leg with a knee.
The shot opened a deep facial cut on Dantas, but referee Michael Bell didn't feel it warranted inspection from the ringside physician.
Dantas rebounds from a unanimous decision loss to Joe Warren at Bellator 128 in October. The loss, his first in the Bellator cage, cost him the 135-pound title.
Gonzalez stops Millender in three rounds
Gonzalez (23-14), who just one year ago says he was contemplating retirement, earned his fourth consecutive win in the 170-pound division. He struggled to close distance on the taller, faster Millender (7-2), especially in the second round, but jumped on the submission finish when it presented itself.
Referee John McCarthy stopped the bout at the 1:14 mark of the final round, when Millender tapped.
"I felt like I won the first round and I knew if I won the third, I would have gotten the decision," Gonzalez said. "Of course, I wanted to go for the win and seal the deal. I knew he was going to come in ready after losing his last fight."
Millender looked confident in the first round, but his demeanor changed as the fight progressed. He taunted Gonzalez early on, shaking his head and waving his finger after blocking punches. His strategy consisted largely of sticking to the outside, throwing push kicks at Gonzalez' legs and body.
Despite performing relatively well, the 27-year-old started to peek at the clock in the second round. Early in the third, Gonzalez kicked out Millender's legs during an exchange. Millender scrambled to his feet, but Gonzalez caught him in a guillotine and pulled guard.
After an initial escape by Millender, Gonzalez adjusted his grip, locked in the guillotine again and secured the finish. Since signing with Bellator last year, the 31-year-old has now recorded wins against Karl Amoussou, Karo Parisyan, Marius Zaromskis and Millender.
"I want that belt," Gonzalez said. "This is my fourth win in a row. I think I'm the [welterweight] closest to it."
Caldwell outpoints Silva
Caldwell (7-0) controlled Silva on the ground throughout the 135-pound contest, claiming unanimous 29-28 scores. It is his fourth win inside the Bellator cage.
In the second round, Silva (22-5) posed a small threat in the form of a guillotine attempt, but it never appeared close to finishing the fight. The failed sub attempt led to Caldwell securing top position, where he scored points with short elbows.
In the third round, Silva grew visibly frustrated by the lack his lack of offense. He tried to bait the taller, longer Caldwell into exchanging with him on the feet, but Caldwell calmly picked his shots, before eventually planting Silva on his back with a single leg.
Referee Mike Beltran stood Caldwell up once due to inactivity, but the 27-year-old was relatively busy the majority of the time, passing Silva's guard on several occasions.
After the bout, Caldwell dedicated the performance to a recently deceased friend. When asked about his next fight, Caldwell said he feels ready for a title shot.