The thirteenth Bellator MMA event of 2015 featured "Halsey vs. Carvalho" -- also known as Bellator 144 -- which took place Friday night (Oct. 23, 2015) inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and streamed live on Spike TV.
The main event saw former Middleweight champion 'Bull' Brandon Halsey on a quest to regain a title that, in his mind, he never lost. Standing in his way, however, was Rafael Carvalho, a dangerous Brazilian striker who prior to Friday night had finished 75% of his opponents by way of knockout.
Either Halsey's perfect 9-0 record would be broken or Carvalho's 11-fight winning streak would come screeching to a halt. Which would it be? Who would claim the vacant Bellator Middleweight Title?
Find out below:
In the first round everything was going Halsey's way. He took down Carvalho whenever he wanted to, nearly submitted him with an arm triangle, and made his life miserable on the ground. 'Bull' looked to do the same in the second round, but his fortunes changed when Carvalho caught him with a picture perfect liver shot that sent him writhing on the mat. The TKO came at 1:42.
Jimmy Smith spoke to Rafael Carvalho (via a Portuguese translator) after he was presented with the belt.
"Thank God for everything. I believe all the time in my training, thank you everybody in Brazil."
Bellator 144 also featured two Welterweight contests from two of the division's top strikers. 'The Irish Bad Boy' Brennan Ward was confident going into his fight with Dennis Olson, and given that Olson was little match for Paul Daley at Bellator 140 the only real risk for Ward may have been overconfidence.
As it turned out the only bad thing to happen to Ward in this fight was a cut to his left eyebrow. Other than that it was a clinical, patient, and deadly showcase of skill. Olson screwed up by going for a takedown right from the bell, but was forced to pull guard to avoid a guillotine choke. Ward punished him with elbows from the top, then opted for a stand-up before he knocked him down again. The next time that happened it wasn't a flash knockdown - it was the blow that forced a TKO at 4:37.
Ward spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"You know me. I'm the hometown guy. See, they're everywhere. Me and Dennis, we talked a lot of shit to each other but that's the name of the game. What can I say? Back at Mohegan, I love these people, I do this for you guys. Andrey Koreshkov's a tough dude, if I'm next in line, he knows we're going to scrap it out."
The other Welterweight bout saw the return of highlight reel sensation Michael 'Venom' Page, going into the night with an unblemished 8-0 record, looking to extend that streak at the expense of 6-3 Bellator newcomer Charlie Ontiveros.
Fans were unimpressed by the first minute of action as Page struck a variety of poses and karate stances, while Ontiveros circled away out of range. The boos ended after Page got a takedown from clinch and completely dominated Ontiveros on the ground, moving quickly from full mount to the back to side control until he finally overwhelmed his opponent with a series of smashing elbows that broke his jaw. The TKO came at 3:20 of R1.
Page spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"I know I can finish anywhere. I don't have to prove anything. I hope he's okay. I'm sorry I finished so early, you know I like to impress people. Bring on the next opponent I'll be back to impress again. It's down to Bellator it's down to my coaches. Whoever you put in front of me the same thing's going to happen."
The main Spike TV card was rounded out by an important Featherweight contest pitting the 18-2 Goiti Yamauchi against the 18-4-2 former 'King of Pancrase' Isao Kobayashi.
Both men were fairly even on paper and Kobayashi certainly boasted an impressive title coming into his Bellator debut, but Yamauchi dominated virtually the entire fight. Even the brief periods when Kobayashi were on top were not safe, as Yamauchi would fish for submissions forcing Kobayashi to surrender the sweep.
Yamauchi busted Kobayashi's head open with an elbow in the second round, dropped him to the canvas with a left standing in the third, and after almost three full rounds he finally tapped out the resilient Kobayashi via RNC at 3:50.
Yamauchi spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight.
"It feels great. Kobayashi is a tough dude, he's one of the best featherweights in the world. I will train more and more to prove my techniques but I made a good performance today. Patricio (Freire), I know you will beat Daniel, so accept my fight. Bellator needs new blood and I am the champion."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.
Check out our live streaming Bellator 144 results RIGHT HERE to see who else made a name for themselves inside the cage last night in Hidalgo.