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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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's John Salter aims to be middleweight champ before 2018

John Salter knows he’s got a big challenge in Kendall Grove. But he also knows if he wants to stick to his plan of being Bellator champion by 2018, that’s just the type of opponent he needs.

Salter (13-3 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) meets Grove (23-16 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) at Friday’s Bellator 181 looking to add to a five-fight winning streak that dates back to 2012. Of those wins, three took place in Bellator. None of them went past the second round. In fact, win or lose, Salter has never needed the judges to decide the outcome of a fight in his career.

The key performance of his recent run came last June, when he needed fewer than five minutes to submit Bellator’s former 185-pound titleholder, Brendan Halsey. Salter was the second man to ever beat the ex-champ. The first had been current champ Rafael Carvalho, who captured the promotion’s vacant 185-pound title in the process.

With Halsey as the common denominator between him and Carvalho, who’s since defended his belt twice, Salter believes there’s a case to be made for his own spot atop the division.

“Brendan Halsey had a run through Bellator where nobody was really touching him,” Salter told MMAjunkie ahead of the co-headlining Spike-televised middleweight scrap. “Carvalho caught him with a body kick. I think that was the only thing Carvalho really did to him in that fight. Halsey moved to his back, almost submitted him, beat him up.

“Then I went in there, I ran through Halsey – on the feet, on the ground, everything. So I think that shows I’m right there. I’m ready for that fight.”

After the Bellator 156 meeting with Halsey, Salter went on to add a third win to his spotless promotional record when he dispatched Claudio Annicchiarico in the first-round of their Bellator 168 encounter. Now, with a win over Grove, he expects to add that definitive stamp on the No. 1 contender ticker.

“This is huge,” Salter said. “This is a great opponent, because Kendall is a big name. Kendall’s been tough for a long time. Everybody knows he’s a good fighter, so a win over him means a lot. I want fights that will put me as No. 1 contender in Bellator. I’m not looking for easy fights. I’m looking for the top guys, who’ll put me right there.”

The win over Halsey also meant the end of a 17-month layoff for Salter in the aftermath of an old neck injury. After leaving what, in hindsight, seemed like too little time between a neck surgery in 2014 and his 2015 Bellator debut, Salter started feeling the effects of the hasty recovery in training. So he let his body heal up.

The ensuing back-to-back finishes in a seven-month period sort of speak for themselves. But, in case that’s not proof enough, an injury-free Salter offers some verbal reassurance that those issues are in the past.

“Right now, I’m about as healthy as I’ve ever been going into a fight,” Salter said.

The 32-year-old UFC and Strikeforce vet, who also happens to be a jiu-jitsu black belt and collegiate wrestling champion, is not overlooking Grove’s skillset. Grove, Salter says, is a great grappler. He’s a solid striker. But the major cause for concern when it comes to the fellow UFC vet is quite obvious.

“The biggest strength he has is that he’s 6-foot-6 in a weight class where nobody else is,” Salter said. “So that makes it really tough to fight. Obviously, on the feet, he’s got the reach. I’ve got to work hard to get inside that angle, move around a lot to get inside.

“And then, once we’re on the ground, he can recover from bad positions a lot easier because he’s so tall. (There’s) a lot to worry about there, but I’ve prepared very well for it. Brought in the guys that I needed to prepare for it. And I’m ready to deal with that height.”

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Salter, who relocated to Nashville mostly so he could train around partners that resembled Grove’s body type, is careful not to let his thoughts wander too far from the task at hand. After all, he hasn’t gotten this far by looking past his opponents. But, at the same time, he does have some plans for the not-so-distant future.

“I’m hoping before 2018 to have that belt around my waist and defend it as often as possible.”

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.

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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