Despite not having the Bellator strap at his side leading up to his fight with Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 144, many looked at Brandon Halsey as the rightful owner of the middleweight crown.
He’d defeated Alexander Shlemenko for the title in 2014, tapping the reigning champion out in just 34 seconds. The, as new champion’s first title defense wouldn’t come without some adversity; he failed to make weight and was forced to vacate the title and compete in a catch-weight bout at 188 pounds versus Kendall Grove. He won that fight, too.
And while he looked ultra impressive in the opening act of what was technically his second attempt at claiming the title at 185 pounds, one swift kick to the liver was his undoing. It was the first loss of Halsey’s professional career, and it may be his last fight at middleweight.
“I was just talking to Halsey, and he was saying that when he was trying to go for the takedown and control him, he said he felt very weak,” Coker told MMAjunkie after the bout. “So he thinks that it’s a weight issue for him and that he has to go up in weight to be competitive because there’s too much of a cut for him, so you might see him at 205 here in the near future.”
A former Division I wrestler, Halsey nearly secured the victory in the opening minutes of the bout when he almost secured an arm triangle choke. The submission looked all but locked in as Halsey squeezed tightly, but Carvalho managed to survive.
A San Diego native, Halsey, 29, moves to 9-1 in his professional career.