Bellator 177 "Dantas vs. Higo" took place earlier tonight (Fri. April 14, 2017) at Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary. The main event saw Bellator’s reigning Bantamweight champion look to defend that crown against a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.
Eduardo Dantas regained the title at Bellator 156 in June and successfully defended it against former champion Joe Warren, but this time he had to face a 17-2 promotional newcomer with 10 wins by submission — the dangerous Leandro “Pitbull” Higo — in a non-title fight.
The confidence of the champion was in full effect here regardless of how many rounds it was set for. The length and reach were difficult for Higo to overcome, who tried to mesmerize Dantas with his hands, but he was the one who ended up eating numerous painful leg kicks. That forced Higo to mock him in order to try to break him mentally — it didn’t work though.
The only round where Higo could potentially have outworked or out-hit Dantas was the third, but even at the end it was clear Dantas had been the more active fighter over the total 15 minutes. Two judges agreed with a verdict of 30-27 for Dantas and one judge inexplicably scored it 29-28 for Higo, leaving Dantas the winner by split decision. He spoke to Jimmy Smith afterward.
“I had a change of opponent and I was preparing for a wrestler, Leandro is known to be a powerful striker, so I had to take my time and move around and be a little bit safer. (Caldwell) needs to stop being a pussy, step in the cage and fight. We can do it in New York if Scott Coker thinks it’s a good idea.”
Two Featherweight contenders put their title aspirations and win streaks on the line, although John Teixeira’s dates back to 2012 and Daniel Weichel’s to 2015. Still, with almost 50 career fights to his name, Teixeira was best advised to not take Weichel lightly.
Teixeira got off to a fast start in the first round, rocking Weichel and forcing him to stand and trade when he got back to his feet, tagging him again with an overhand left. Instead of forcing the finish to the fight, Teixeira let Weichel recover and out struck him for the rest of Round 1.
Weichel had a hard time figuring out the aggressive Teixeira’s offense. Every time he’d step into range he’d eat a jab or a hook, and if he managed to land one he’d take a flurry of kicks and punches. Even if Teixeira missed half, he was still throwing twice as many if not more.
Weichel finally got it going his way in Round 3, consistently landing the right hook and appearing to flummox Teixeira’s offense, causing him to miss more than hit. Unfortunately he couldn’t drop Teixeira or dominate him to the point of a clear 10-8. The judges returned a surprising verdict of 29-28 X2 for Weichel, with one judge scoring 29-28 for Teixeira.
After gaining the split decision, Weichel spoke to Jimmy Smith about his friend in the crowd and his plans to fight for the title after next Friday.
“You know this is my life. I love this. I do this with passion. Huge shout out to everybody who came here to support me. Walter, thank you so much, I can’t put words into how much I appreciate your support. I want to go home and prepare (like) hell and be ready for anybody. You better put me cageside at Mohegan Sun.”
Ukrainian sensation Lena Ovchynnikova looked to pick up her second win in Bellator’s Flyweight division, but former TUF castmate Helen “Hellraiser” Harper had been waiting for a fight since December 2016 and wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by easily.
Despite the natural strawweight giving up a huge height and reach advantage to Ovchynnikova, Harper nearly had the fight won in the first round, taking her foe down and getting a full mount en route to multiple submission attempts. Ovchynnikova had to powerbomb her way out of a triangle to get back to her feet for the final minute.
After that it was all Ovchynnikova, who finally used her strengths to her advantage to batter Harper with knees, kicks and left hooks. Harper was unable to get off the stool in between frames, giving Ovchynnikova the technical knockout at 5:00 of the second round.
Jimmy Smith spoke to Ovchynnikova and her translator after her hand was raised about how close the submissions were in round one.
“She feeling was that she was more stronger and she would win the fight. She believes that it will be her third round. She prepares for the third round, but the second round is good enough. Now all people all fans in Europe, in Russia, in Ukraine want to see the fight, Lena versus (Anastasia) Yankova. It would be good for all fans to see this fight.”
Rounding out the card was another Featherweight bout between undefeated local favorite Adam Borics and known trashtalker Anthony “Pretty Boy” Taylor.
With respective records of 5-0 and 1-2 the result may have been evident before the start, but it still took one errant kick to the cup by Borics and a wild restart before Taylor was left foggy enough from the striking of Borics to give up his back and tap to a rear-naked choke finish at 4:12.
Borics and his translator talked to Jimmy Smith after the finish -- hoping he wasn’t finished after being the hometown hero.
“I’m hoping this is just the beginning. I’d like to go back to my team in the USA. I spent four or five weeks training for this, and this is just the beginning I hope.”
For complete Bellator 177 results and coverage click here.