Brandon Halsey and Bubba Jenkins, former collegiate wrestlers who each earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, both came out on top in their respective matches at Bellator Fighting Championships’ Bellator 126 event at the Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix Friday night.
It took Halsey, who wrestled at Cal State Bakersfield, just over a half-minute to take the Bellator middleweight title from Alexander Shlemenko… while Jenkins, who wrestled at Penn State before winning an NCAA title at Arizona State, came out the victor in a three-round unanimous decision over Thiago Meller in a featherweight bout.
All hail Halsey, new middleweight champ
In his description of the top-of-the-card Halsey-Shlemenko title bout, Brian Knapp of the mixed martial arts website Sherdog.com wrote, “The changing of the guard was quick and clinical. Brandon Halsey submitted Alexander Shlemenko with a first-round rear-naked choke to take the Bellator MMA middleweight championship by force… The end came 35 seconds into round one, as the fallen champion fell unconscious in Halsey’s clutches.”
The MMA website pwinsiderxtra.com described the match thusly: “The round begins with Shlemenko attacking Halsey with a striking combination, Halsey scores a takedown on Shlemenko and he gets back control. Halsey locks Shlemenko in the rear naked choke and Shlemenko goes out cold.”
With the win, Halsey not only grabbed the 185-pound middleweight title in short order, but also remains perfect in his professional MMA career he launched in January 2012. The former CSUB Roadrunner football player and wrestler who won All-American honors at 197 pounds at the 2009 NCAAs now sports an 8-0 overall MMA record, and 6-0 in Bellator competition.
Former Sun Devil Jenkins earns impressive unanimous decision
“Tactical takedowns and damaging ground-and-pound carried Bubba Jenkins to a lopsided unanimous decision over Thiago Meller in a featured featherweight matchup,” was the opening line of Sherdog.com’s report on the match, adding, “Meller did not enjoy his (Bellator) organizational debut. Jenkins struck for takedowns in all three rounds, denied the Brazilian’s submission advances and fed him a steady diet of forearm strikes, elbows and hammerfists from the top.”
In its play-by-play coverage of the Jenkins-Meller match, pwinsiderxtra.com used the phrase “ground and pound” repeatedly to describe the actions of the former Sun Devil mat champ who pinned his former Penn State teammate to win the 157-pound crown in the finals at the 2011 NCAAs. All three judges awarded the lopsided three-round decision to Jenkins, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
Jenkins, who weighed in at 146 pounds for this match, is now 8-1 overall, and 5-1 in Bellator, with the one loss occurring almost exactly one year ago. The MMA veteran Meller is now 19-6 overall, and 0-1 in Bellator.