According to a Sept. 25 report from MMA Junkie, Bellator MMA returns this weekend with a stacked card that emanates from the Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix. The event, which goes down Sept. 26, airs live and free on Spike TV at 9 p.m.
Bellator 126 features an intriguing main event between Alexander Shlemenko (184.6) and Brandon Halsey (184.4), as the hard-hitting Russian puts his middleweight title on the line against his toughest opponent yet. Halsey is an undefeated 185-pounder who earned a title shot by defeating five high-level opponents under the Bellator MMA banner. As for Shlemenko, he looks to rebound from a recent loss to Tito Ortiz. Shlemenko, 30, battled Ortiz at light heavyweight, so he didn’t lose his title.
Shlemenko was severely undersized for a scrap with Ortiz, so it wasn’t surprising that he lost in the opening frame. However, it was his first loss in four years and he admits he was rattled by it. Bellator 126 will be Shlemenko’s first chance since the Ortiz fight to get back in the win column. In the Bellator 126 co-main, highly-regarded submission expert Marcin Held (155.7) competes against Patricky Freire (155.6). Held, 22, is easily the top heel hook and toe hold expert in the MMA game today.
He fights a hard-nosed opponent in Freire, a 28-year-old who is riding a three-fight win streak under the Bellator MMA banner. Freire fights Held as part of the Bellator Season 10 lightweight tournament, a makeup bout that was originally scheduled for earlier this year. Elsewhere on the Bellator 126 main card, Bubba Jenkins (146) battles Thiago Meller (145.4) in a 145-pound scrap with serious title implications.
Finally, the Bellator 126 main card sees Mike Richman (135.5) taking on Ed West (135.9) at bantamweight. Bellator 126 opens with a loaded preliminary card that features some of the top regional superstars from the Phoenix area, including Raymond Pina (159.4) and Larue Burley (155). Luckily for Bellator fans, critically-acclaimed ring girls Jade Bryce and Mercedes Terrell will be on hand for the event, performing all ring card girl duties and also manning the fan experience booth.
Bellator MMA continues to gain ground on the UFC, especially since Scott Coker took over as head honcho a couple months back. The promotion cut some of the dead weight on the roster, to deliver a stream-lined product with some of the top rising stars in the game today. Some of the major changes Coker made will be apparent at Bellator 126.