Bellator continues it’s trend of MMA/kickboxing hybrid cards in Europe with Bellator 177, which takes place at the Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary.
The main event features a bantamweight championship fight between the king of the division, Eduardo Dantas, and challenger Leandro Higo. Higo is a late replacement for Darrion Caldwell, who pulled out due to injury. This will be the champ’s second title defense. Dantas most recently avenged a loss to Joe Warren. This will be Higo’s first fight for Bellator and a step up from the developmental circuits, where he was champion for both the Legacy Fighting Alliance and the Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
Daniel Weichel makes his return to the cage to face John Teixeira. Teixeira has been on a tear in Bellator, where he has won his first four fights. His most recent victory over Justin Lawrence seems to have catapulted him to his first true test against one of the best in the division.
Hometown favorite Ádám Borics will also make a jump to the big time to go up against Anthony Taylor at the featherweight level. The card will also jump to the women’s side, where flyweights Lena Ovchynnikova and Helen Harper meet.
The Bellator 177 main card will air on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET. Bellator Kickboxing 6 will follow, also on Spike TV, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas was slated to meet Darrion Caldwell for his next title defense, but now Caldwell is out with an injury and Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Legacy Fighting Alliance champ Leandro Higo is in to take his place. Is Higo a tougher match-up for Dantas?
What makes this a tougher match-up isn’t in terms of skill, but rather timing. Caldwell is a better fighter, but Higo enters as a late replacement. It isn’t extremely late — Dantas has had a month’s worth of preparation for Higo — but to train for someone with a totally different skill set is hard in such a short period.
Caldwell is a wrestler who would give Dantas trouble in the clinch and bring the fight to the ground. Higo doesn’t really pose this same threat. The Brazilian challenger will definitely want to go to the ground, where he has won a majority of his fights by submission. Dantas is still a very adept grappler against other jiu-jitsu practitioners, whereas he tends to struggle against good wrestlers like Joe Warren.
This alone made Caldwell the more dangerous opponent, but then there’s the level of competition. Caldwell has faced some good fighters in his time with Bellator. We’re talking the likes of Joe Taimanglo and Warren. You don’t get this same level of competition on the regional and developmental circuits. This isn’t a knock on Higo, who has put together a great run, but one that hasn’t come at the Bellator or UFC level.
Caldwell has always been a great prospect. He rose in his last couple of fights to become a full-blown top contender. Caldwell is the tougher opponent of the two.
Hungarian fighter Ádám Borics is on the main card, obviously as a nod to the local fans in Budapest. Is Borics a name fans need to know?
No, not yet anyway. Typically these cards are filled with some young, promising prospect from the country that’s hosting the event. Typically, this works out well when they go to hotbeds for MMA like, say, England or Ireland, where there are a ton of great prospects who have fought some reasonably good competition.
Borics hasn’t gotten to this point, yet. He’s faced some mediocre competition in Eastern Europe. While the 23-year-old is a good prospect, he hasn’t come across many guys who could really test him. Take this fight, for example. It is a main-card bout featuring an undefeated prospect and a fighter with a 1-2 record. It doesn’t showcase Borics to put him up against a sub-.500 fighter he should be able to beat.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
John Teixeira and Daniel Weichel.
Weichel has not only been a solid contender, but a fun fighter to watch, especially when he deploys his slick ground game. Weichel is one of the most underrated fighters around. His only loss came against Patricio Freire in a title fight he was definitely in until the end.
Teixeira is another fighter who has been largely impressive, with only one loss in his career. He has won all of his four fights for the promotion, including a win in his last fight against Justin Lawrence.
Bellator 177 Fight Picks
|Main Card (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)|
|BW Championship: Eduardo Dantas vs. Leandro Higo||Dantas|
|FW: John Teixeira vs. Daniel Weichel||Weichel|
|Women’s FlyW: Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Helen Harper||Ovchynnikova|
|FW: Ádám Borics vs. Anthony Taylor||Borics|
|Preliminary Card (Bellator.com)|
|FW: Brian Moore vs. Michal Hořejší||Moore|
|LW: Mate Kertesz vs. Adam Polgar||Kertesz|
Bellator Kickboxing 6 Fight Picks
|Main Card (Spike TV, 11 p.m. ET)|
|WW Championship: Zoltan Laszak vs. Karim Ghajji||Ghajji|
|MW: Joe Schilling vs. Alexandru Negrea||Schilling|
|WW: Raymond Daniels vs. Gyorfi Csaba||Daniels|
|Women’s FW: Jorina Baars vs. Irene Martens||Baars|
|FW: Gabriel Varga vs. Gabor Gorbics||Varga|