Bellator 156: "Galvao vs. Dantas" comes to Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., tomorrow night (Fri., June 17, 2016), live on Spike TV with a card that starts at 9 p.m. ET. The main event for the evening features a Bantamweight title defense for Marcos Galvao against former champion Eduardo Dantas.
The fighters in the main event have history that dates back to when they used to train together at Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro. Galvao won a Bellator tournament that put them on a collision course at Bellator 89 in Charlotte, N.C., where Dantas knocked him out in the second round to retain the title.
Since that time, Dantas lost the title to Joe Warren at Bellator 128, while Galvao beat Warren for the title at Bellator 135, which has led to a complete role reversal where Galvao is now the champion and Dantas the challenger. This has been a hard fight to put together, though -- each fighter has pulled out of a scheduled rematch because of injury or illness.
There are several other intriguing fights -- with No. 1 contender potential -- booked for Fresno, too, so let's break down the Spike TV-televised card:
135 lbs.: Marcos Galvao (17-6-1) vs. Eduardo Dantas (17-4)
Galvao has evolved considerably as a fighter since the first time the two met. He now trains out of Long Island MMA in New York, reeling off four straight wins including his first-ever career submission against the aforementioned Warren. Previous to recent history, Galvao's reputation was as a grinder, and a look at his career record shows that 70 percent of his wins (12 of 17) have come via decision. Starting at Bellator 73, though, Galvao won three out of four fights in a row by knockout, showing that his hands have to now be considered dangerous weapons.
However, the one fight of those four he lost by knockout was to Dantas, only the fourth knockout of his professional career and the last one he's gotten to date. He's a submission artist in 35 percent of his wins (six of 17), but a grinder slightly more often at 41 percent of the time (seven of 17 by decision). In many ways, it's remarkable how similar they are and not hard to imagine that working with each other sharpened them into two of the best Bantamweights in MMA today.
Only one can be a champion after Friday night, though.
Dantas looked slightly less than stellar against Mike Richman, although with more than one year off and a title shot on the line, he will be a completely different man than the one who fought then. Galvao is equally inactive over the same period, although the four-fight win streak that led to him capturing the title has to make him the favorite here despite their previous history. Galvao might want to prove a point and return the favor by knocking his former running buddy out, but the smart strategy would be to drag Dantas into deep water and see if he fades late. Regardless, it will be a close fight.
Final prediction: Marcos Galvao retains by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Thiago Jambo (18-4) vs. Chidi Njokuani (14-4, 1 NC)
Jambo takes this fight on super short notice (one week), filling in for Douglas Lima as he jumps to Bellator 158 to face Paul "Semtex" Daley. He'll take on the streaking Njokuani, winner of four straight, including a surprising decision against Ricky Rainey in his Bellator debut. Njokuani has won eight out of 14 by knockout (57 percent), but all of the fights in his streak have gone to decision including a Tachi Palace title fight against Max Griffin.
Jambo won his WSOF 21 fight last June, but hasn't been seen since then. Calling him a "career grinder" would be an understatement given that 61 percent of his wins (11 out of 18) go to decision. That doesn't favor him with an experienced multi-sport striker like Njokuani, nor does the age difference between the two, as Njokuani is eight years his junior at 27 and 35 respectively. Jambo earns respect for taking the fight on short notice, but does not earn the "W" here.
Final prediction: Chidi Njokuani via second round knockout
185 lbs.: Brandon Halsey (9-1) vs. John Salter (11-3)
Salter worked his way into this position by submitting Dustin Jacoby in his Bellator debut. His amateur wrestling record is outstanding and includes a NAIA National Wrestling Championship at 174 pounds. That would ordinarily be enough to takedown even the toughest of foes, but "Bull" Halsey is a division 1 NCAA All-American in his own right. And until he lost a match for the title he vacated, that wrestling never let him down. His takedowns either opened up submissions (four of nine wins) or led to knockouts when opponents tried to block them (two of nine). His only mistake was not checking a liver kick from Carvalho -- a mistake he's not likely to make again.
Final prediction: Brandon Halsey wins via rear-naked choke
185 lbs.: Chris Honeycutt (7-1) vs. Mikkel Parlo (13-2)
Honeycutt was a promising undefeated Welterweight on the rise until he was defeated by Paul Bradley in 40 seconds in a rematch. "The Cutt" got some measure of redemption at Bellator 153 against Matt Secor, but for this fight he'll move up to Middleweight, a class where he was once champion at UPC Unlimited. Parlo is a Bellator tournament veteran who made his way to the finals only to have Brennan Ward shatter his dreams. He's only had one fight in the last two years and ring rust is real, so I expect that a quick return and smaller weight cut play to Honeycutt's natural wrestling advantages. Barring any fluke, he should take down Parlo easily and repeatedly.
Final prediction: Chris Honeycutt wins via unanimous decision
That's a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver live coverage of Bellator 156: "Galvao vs. Dantas" tomorrow night, with real-time results throughout the evening followed by Spike TV fights at 9 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.