MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for July: A long-awaited debut meets expectations

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from July. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for July.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

* * * *

The nominees

Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson at TUF 25 Finale

Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) promised a big splash in his UFC debut, and the former WSOF champ delivered when he defeated lightweight contender Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC).

Gaethje added yet another victory to his undefeated record when he beat Johnson by second-round TKO in a “Fight of the Year” contender, putting himself on the map in the loaded 155-pound weight class.

Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero at UFC 213

Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) came into his UFC interim middleweight title fight against Yoel Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) with a bum left knee, but he didn’t expect it to give him any trouble.

That all changed in the first round, though, when Romero hit Whittaker with a side kick. Whittaker felt the pain that would stick with him for the remainder of the bout. It didn’t hinder him completely, and he pushed through with his game plan and seemingly came back from an 0-2 hole to win a unanimous decision.

Instagram Photo

Derek Campos def Brandon Girtz at Bellator 181

Derek Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) and Brandon Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) have met three times under the Bellator banner, and their trilogy proved an instant classic.

The two lightweights came to bang in the catchweight contest. Ultimately, Campos took home a TKO at the close of the second round when doctors determined a nasty gash on Girtz’s forehead was bad enough to end the fight.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5508776133001

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Lyman Good at UFC on FOX 25

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (17-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Lyman Good (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) threw down for 15 minutes, but dos Santos brought a few more weapons and a little more energy.

Although one judge dissented for Good, Brazilian vet dos Santos picked up two scorecards to take home the split-decision call in the entertaining welterweight affair.

Instagram Photo

Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano at UFC 214

Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) were nearly two-and-a-half rounds into a striking war that fans at cageside could hear as well as they could see. Then Moicano made the questionable decision to take down Ortega.

It played right into Ortega’s submission strengths as Moicano inadvertently stuck his neck into a guillotine choke that Ortega squeezed for the finish, forcing the tap at the 2:59 mark of Round 3.

* * * *

The winner: Gaethje vs. Johnson

Michael Johnson and Justin Gaethje

The contempt between Gaethje and Johnson finally came to a head inside the octagon, and it was a sight to behold.

Gaethje overcame nearly being finished twice to storm back for a finish of his own, defeating Johnson via second-round TKO in one of the most memorable UFC debuts in history.

“You cannot break me,” Gaethje said. “I promise you. You better put me to sleep.”

It appeared that came close to happening on two occasions during this slugfest. Gaethje was getting the better of some spectacular exchanges for most of the first round, but Johnson connected flush with a right hook that badly wobbled the newcomer. Johnson went for the finish, and he might’ve gotten it, but the bell sounded.

Both fighters came out swinging again in the second round, and again Johnson landed a right hand that wobbled Gaethje but didn’t drop him. Although Johnson failed to finish, he settled in and found holes in Gaethje’s defense, allowing him to land the better shots.

That is, until Gaethje hit an uppercut in the final 90 seconds that discombobulated Johnson. From there, Gaethje continued to pour it on with more uppercuts, busting up Johnson’s face until a knee signaled the end when “Big” John McCarthy stepped in at the 4:42 mark.

“Where is my equal at?” he asked the crowd. “I’m 18-0 with 15 knockouts. Who is my equal? That’s who I want.”

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Source: MMA Junkie

Brandon Girtz still wishes his Air Jordan cut hadn't led to 'baffling' stoppage at Bellator 181

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5511042814001
Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos

Derek Campos might have been the official winner of Bellator 181’s headlining trilogy with Brandon Girtz, but there were certainly two stars emerging from that instant classic.

Well, three if you count the infamous cut on Girtz’s forehead.

Girtz suffered the cut within the first frame of the main event. Spectators got their first good glance of it as he returned to the stool and the blood was wiped away. Late in the second round, referee John McCarthy called the doctor to assess the gash, but the fight was allowed to continue. Girtz, who even scored a late knockdown, went back to his stool as normal. From there, he awaited what he believed would be a third round.

Instead, the fight was called off.

The cut wasn’t exactly pretty. And the fact that it ended up requiring 33 stitches shows it wasn’t shallow, either. But Girtz is still not OK with how it brought Friday’s main event to a halt. More than the stoppage, itself, his problem seems to be with the process that led to it.

“I thought we were going into a third round,” Girtz told MMAjunkie Radio a few days after Friday’s event at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. “All they kept telling me is, ‘We’re not going to stop it if it doesn’t get worse.’ All I could hear is, ‘It hasn’t gotten worse.’ I’m hearing all the right things. And then third round’s about to start and they’re like, ‘Nope, there’s no third round.’

Brandon Girtz

“It was just baffling. I was feeling good and they were telling me there was no change in the cut from the minute it happened to then. I didn’t feel like I was really taking damage into the cut. So it hurt, man. I was ready for a third round. I thought I was doing what I had to do.

“(The) doctor never said, ‘I’m stopping it’ or anything like that. I think he got out of the ring and then said ‘It’s done,’ because he didn’t want me to plead with him or something. I don’t know. That’s why it was pretty painful. In my heart, I was already going into a third round. And to have it just scrapped like that, it felt really awkward.”

Speaking of awkward: Girtz’s gash was later tended to by the same doctor that made the call. In fact, he suspects the 33 stitches might have included some extra care to make him “look pretty.” Girtz says that the doctor did explain his decision, citing safety concerns. But the fighter thought it would be wise not to press the issue too much.

“I wanted to, but the dude was back there working on my head,” Girzt said. “I didn’t really want to get into an argument. I wanted to say I strongly disagree, but the dude was back there stitching up my skull. I kind of just held in. At the end I told him I wish he wouldn’t have stopped it, but that’s all I could say at the time.”

General dissatisfaction aside, Girtz takes some solace on the fact that the battle was quickly praised as one for the ages. And as for the gash’s own rise to fame due to its likeness to the “Jumpman” logo Nike uses to promote Air Jordan?

“I chuckled at that,” Girtz said. “I can see it. It’s nothing that I need to get upset about. It’s definitely one of the biggest scars I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. I represent my scars, man. I’m out here doing stuff.”

Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) was ultimately declared the winner via TKO. And, with the catchweight battle holding scorecards of 19-19, 20-18 and 18-20 up until the stoppage, it probably doesn’t help Girtz’s (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) heartbreak that he felt he had momentum on his side heading into the third frame.

“I thought I was the one pushing the pace and landing the strikes,” Girtz said. “I was watching Derek’s face, and it definitely wasn’t of happiness. I thought the third round was going to be mine. I really felt like I was the one coming forward and I was the one really hurting somebody.”

Which is not to say Girtz is in any way discounting his opponent. Quite the contrary – he’s all praise for Campos and the fact he was able to come back from shots that, from where Girtz was standing, should’ve been more than enough to put him away.

“And that man freaking came back,” Girtz said. “I saw him go away for a second. And he came back. There’s only ups to Derek. He’s a tough dude.”

With Campos now 2-1 in their trilogy, how does Girtz feel about evening out the score? Well, we’re not so sure ourselves.

“I definitely feel like there’s unfinished business,” Girtz said. “Am I yelling out, ‘I want to fight Derek’? I like Derek a lot. We got out there – he’s definitely one of the guys I like the most I’ve ever fought. So it’s hard to say I want another fight. Definitely, I do feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business. I wanted to do that third round. I felt great. It hurts, how it ended.”

For more on Bellator 181, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch the bloody Bellator 181 main event between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz in full

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

On Friday night, Derek Campos took the lead in his rivalry with Brandon Girtz, but it took all kinds of blood to get it done.

In the Bellator 181 headliner on Spike at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., lightweight Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) got a TKO win over Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) in the second round thanks to a brutal cut … a cut that looked like the Nike Air Jordan “Jumpman” logo.

If you missed Friday’s main event, or just want to see the thriller again, check out the video above. And don’t miss our exclusive photo gallery below.

And for more on Bellator 181, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 181 post-event facts: Joe Warren creeps toward Bellator's all-time wins record

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Filed under: Bellator, News

The third chapter in the competitive story between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz took place Friday in Bellator 181’s headliner at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla.

Campos (19-6 MMA, 7-4 BMMA) gained a 2-1 advantage in the series when a knee opened a cut on Girtz’s (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) forehead, leading to a doctor’s stoppage at the end of the second round in the Spike-televised main event. Prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

For all the numbers to come out of Bellator’s latest event, check below for 20 post-event facts.

* * * *

General

Michael C. Williams

Betting favorites went 3-0 on the main card. One fight had even odds.

Betting favorites remained 8-3 in Bellator main events this year. Campos vs. Girtz closed with even odds.

Total fight time for the four-bout main card was 44:37.

* * * *

Main card

Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz

Campos’ four-fight winning streak is the longest of his Bellator career.

Campos has earned all of his Bellator stoppage victories by strikes.

Girtz suffered his third consecutive loss, the longest skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since November 2015.

Girtz has suffered both of his Bellator stoppage losses due to strikes.

John Salter

John Salter’s (14-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) four-fight Bellator winning streak in middleweight competition is the second longest active streak in the division behind Rafael Carvalho (five).

Salter has earned all 13 of his career victories by stoppage.

Salter’s three submission victories in Bellator middleweight competition are tied with Justin Butcher for most in divisional history.

Kendall Grove (23-17 MMA, 4-4 BMMA) fell to 5-7 in his past 12 fights.

Grove has suffered 12 of his 17 career losses by stoppage.

Grove suffered his first submission loss since Dec. 1, 2012 – a span of 1,686 days (more than four years) and 11 fights.

Emily Ducote

Emily Ducote’s (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) four Bellator victories in women’s flyweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Ilima Macfarlane (five).

Jessica Middleton (2-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) suffered the first decision loss of her career.

Joe Warren’s (15-6 MMA, 13-5 BMMA) 13 victories in Bellator competition are tied with lightweight champ Michael Chandler for second most in company history behind Patricio Freire (14).

Warren’s nine victories in Bellator bantamweight competition are second most in company history behind champ Eduardo Dantas (10).

Joe Warren

Warren has alternated wins and losses over his past seven fights.

Warren has earned 10 of his 15 career victories by decision. That includes nine of his 13 wins under the Bellator banner.

Steve Garcia (7-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) has suffered both of his career losses by decision.

For complete coverage of Bellator 181, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

The best images from Bellator 181's wild, brutal and bloody headliner

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Photo Gallery

Check out the best images from Friday’s Bellator 181 headliner, which had the MMA world buzzing due to a head gash that had a pretty familiar shape.

In the Spike-televised main event at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., lightweight Derek Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) took the lead in his three-fight series with Brandon Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) after scoring a second-round TKO win due to a cut.

USA TODAY Sports photographer Kevin Jairaj captured the images, including the cut that looked the Air Jordan “Jumpman” logo:

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Fight highlights are also available above.

For more on Bellator 181, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Photo Gallery
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 181 highlights: A fight-ending forehead cut that looks like the Air Jordan logo

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

Friday’s Bellator 181 headliner was a thriller – one that ended with an oddly shaped cut to one fighter’s forehead.

In the Spike-televised main event at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., Derek Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) took the 2-1 lead in his trilogy with Brandon Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) after scoring a second-round TKO stoppage win in the 158-pound catchweight fight.

The stoppage was the result of a nasty cut on the forehead of Girtz. As at-home viewers quickly noticed, the fight-ending gash had a familiar outline – one that looked like the Air Jordan “Jumpman” logo (via Twitter):

USA TODAY Sports photographer Kevin Jairaj captured the image (via Twitter):

Also on the card, fast-rising middleweight John Salter (14-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) put Kendall Grove (23-17 MMA, 4-4 BMMA) to sleep with a choke, flyweight Emily Ducote (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) edged tough late replacement Jessica Middleton (2-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA), and former Bellator champ Joe Warren (15-6 MMA, 13-5 BMMA) easily outwrestled Steve Garcia (7-2 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) for a unanimous-decision win.

For more on Bellator 181, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

5 reasons to watch Bellator 181 and its trilogy rematch between Derek Campos, Brandon Girtz

An unexpected rubber match between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz headlines Friday’s Bellator 181.

It’s unexpected, because up until late June, Campos was training for a rematch with the man who knocked him out in April 2014, Patricky Freire. Don’t think that change sits well with Campos.

For one, Bellator pulled Freire from the card and slotted him opposite former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the Bellator 183 main event in September. That move was made despite the fact Freire is 1-2 in his past three fights, while Campos is unbeaten in his last three. Campos can’t be faulted if he’s wondering why he didn’t get the chance to face Henderson. A second reason Campos is bound to be salty is the last time he faced Girtz, Girtz knocked him out in 37 seconds.

Bellator 181 also features a stacked preliminary card. While the promotion’s prelims are often loaded with inexperienced local talent, this event features some intriguing matchups, including the second Bellator fight of Rafael Lovato Jr., who faces former UFC fighter Mike Rhodes. Also on the prelims is the latest Bellator signing from the NCAA wrestling ranks, Logan Storley.

Bellator 181 takes place at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

1. Familiar foes

The first time Campos and Girtz met was in 2013. Campos won that fight via unanimous decision. Two years later they ran that one back, and Girtz blasted Campos (14-6 MMA, 6-4 BMMA) early, earning a quick 37-second stoppage. Since their second bout, these two have headed in opposite directions.

Campos is on a three-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Derek Anderson by unanimous decision, while Girtz is winless since stopping Campos, his latest loss being a decision to Fernando Gonzalez in a catchweight contest.

For Girtz this lightweight fight is high risk and low reward, for Campos it’s exactly the opposite, which should make for a fun scrap for the fans.

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2. A quiet climb

John Salter has quietly put together a five-fight winning streak, with each of his victories coming by way of stoppage. A major reason Salter’s streak has flown under the radar is because it’s come over the course of more than four years. But a streak it is, and three of those wins have come under the Bellator banner, including a submission win over former champion Brandon Halsey.

Salter (13-3 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) looks to add Kendall Grove (23-16 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) to his list of vanquished opponents at Bellator 181. Grove was on a two-fight winning streak before suffering a TKO loss to former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 162.

If Salter can get the best of Grove, he’ll be in line for a top-ranked opponent in his next outing.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5243826350001

3. Opportunity knocks

Steve Garcia has a tremendous opportunity at Bellator 181. The 25-year-old bantamweight is fighting on his first main card for the promotion, and he’s matched up against former two-division Bellator champion Joe Warren.

Garcia (7-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) has never faced a fighter with Warren’s (14-6 MMA, 12-5 BMMA) experience, but the members of the Bellator brass must see something they like in the young Jackson-Wink MMA prospect to give him the opportunity to face the veteran combatant, who is coming off a majority decision loss to current bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas.

A cynic might look at this matchup as one made to give Warren an opponent he should handily defeat, but I don’t buy that thinking. Yes, Warren has alternated wins and losses over his last six fights, but he’s also firmly entrenched near the top of the Bellator bantamweight pecking order, so it doesn’t make sense to try and book him a gimme fight.

Garcia enters this contest coming off an October unanimous decision win over Ronnie Lawrence.

On a side note, neither fighter has enjoyed fighting in Thackerville. Warren has lost his last three fights in the city, and Garcia’s sole defeat came in Thackerville.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5232505354001

4. And for his next act …

Lovato, one of the most decorated Americans practicing jiu-jitsu, didn’t need to employ his grappling expertise in his Bellator debut. Instead, Lovato blasted through Charles Hackman in 13 seconds, using knees and punches to get a quick TKO stoppage. At Bellator 181, Lovato (5-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who joined Bellator after capturing the Legacy FC middleweight crown, gets a step up in competition, facing former RFA welterweight champion and three-fight UFC veteran Rhodes (10-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA). Rhodes, whose most recent victory earned him the Victory Fighting Championship middleweight crown, has won his last four fights.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5347519654001

5. Another notable signing

Bellator has added yet another former NCAA wrestler to its roster. In June the promotion inked Storley, a four-time All-American with the University of Minnesota. The 24-year-old Storley has five pro fights to his name, four with Resurrection Fighting Alliance and one with Legacy Fighting Alliance. Storley has won each of those fights by TKO. Only one of his five bouts has left the first round.

Storley’s (5-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) opponent, Kemmyelle Haley, has been a pro since 2012. Haley (7-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has never gone the distance in victory or defeat, most recently competing in 2015.

For more on Bellator 181, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 181 pre-event facts: Joe Warren ties all-time record with 18th Bellator bout

Three weeks removed from the biggest event in company history, Bellator returns Friday with Bellator 181, which takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla.

The main card, which airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie, has experienced a variety of changes, but the final product sees Derek Campos (18-6 MMA, 7-4 BMMA) fight lightweight Brandon Girtz (14-6 MMA, 6-4 BMMA) in a trilogy bout.

They’ve split results in the previous encounters, but now one side will have the chance to close out the rivalry by winning the best-of-three series.

For more on the numbers behind the headliner, as well as the remainder of the card, check out 20 pre-event facts about Bellator 181.

* * * *

Main event

Derek Campos

Campos and Girtz become the second fighters in Bellator history to compete against the same opponent three or more times under the promotional banner. Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus, who have fought four times, are the others.

Campos’ three-fight winning streak is tied for the longest of his Bellator career.

Campos has earned five of his seven Bellator victories by decision.

Girtz enters the event on the first two-fight losing skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since November 2015.

Girtz has earned 11 of his 15 career victories by stoppage. That includes four of his six Bellator wins.

Co-main event

Emily Ducote

Emily Ducote (5-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) competes in her fifth Bellator women’s flyweight bout, tied with Ilima Macfarlane for the most appearances in divisional history.

Ducote’s three Bellator stoppage victories in women’s flyweight competition are tied with Macfarlane for most in divisional history.

Ducote’s three Bellator submission victories in women’s flyweight competition are tied with Macfarlane for most in divisional history.

Remaining main card

Joe Warren

Joe Warren (14-6 MMA, 12-5 BMMA), 40, is the oldest of the eight fighters scheduled to compete on the main card.

Warren is the only fighter in Bellator history to win titles in two weight classes. He is a former featherweight and bantamweight titleholder.

Warren competes in his 18th Bellator bout, tied with Patricio Freire and David Rickels for most appearances in company history.

Warren competes in his 13th Bellator bantamweight bout, the most appearances in divisional history.

Warren’s 12 victories in Bellator competition are tied for third most in company history behind Freire (14) and Michael Chandler (13).

Warren’s eight victories in Bellator bantamweight competition are tied for second most in divisional history behind Eduardo Dantas (10).

Warren has alternated wins and losses over his past six fights. He suffered a loss in his most recent bout at Bellator 166 in December.

Steve Garcia (7-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA), 25, is the youngest of the eight scheduled main card fighters.

Kendall Grove

Kendall Grove (23-16 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) is 5-5 in his past 10 fights dating back to 2013.

Grove has earned three of his four Bellator victories by stoppage.

Grove has suffered all three of his Bellator losses by knockout.

John Salter (13-3 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) has earned all of his career victories by stoppage. He’s also been stopped inside the distance in all his losses.

For more on Bellator 181, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Benson Henderson's return, Roy Nelson's debut at Bellator 183; Bellator 181 gets new headliner

Benson Henderson’s return and the debut of Roy Nelson will happen on the same night at Bellator 183, the promotion announced tonight during the Spike-televised broadcast of Bellator 180.

Henderson (24-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA) will compete in the evening’s headliner against Patricky Freire (17-8 MMA, 10-7 BMMA), who no longer will headline next month’s Bellator 181 event. Nelson (22-14 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), meanwhile, will be featured in the co-main event against Javy Ayala (10-5 MMA, 5-2 BMMA).

Bellator 183 takes place Sept. 23 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and will air on Spike, with prelims streaming on MMAjunkie.

Henderson is coming off knee surgery in December to repair a torn “ACL, MCL, two meniscus and a bunch of loose cartilage,” he told MMAjunkie in April. The former UFC lightweight champion is 1-2 in three Bellator appearances, most recently dropping a split decision to champ Michael Chandler last November.

Freire had been scheduled to face Derek Campos next month in the Bellator 181 main event but won’t with the new booking. “Pitbull” has won three of his last four fights, including a knockout of Josh Thomson in his last fight at Bellator 172.

Nelson, who spent 8 years in the UFC, will be making his Bellator debut after signing with the company in May. He’s dropped five of his past seven bouts overall, with his most recent victory coming against Antonio Silva at UFC Fight Night 95 in September.

In Ayala, Nelson will be facing a fighter riding a two-fight winning streak that includes a 16-second knockout of Sergei Kharitonov last November at Bellator 163.

As a result of Freire moving to Bellator 183, the promotion also announced he would be replaced by Brandon Girtz (14-6 MMA, 6-4 BMMA) to face Campos (18-6 MMA, 7-4 BMMA) in a trilogy fight in the new Bellator 181 main event July 14 in Verona, N.Y. The two have split their previous two bouts.

For more on Bellator 183 and Bellator 181, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie