No Title Defense, Dantas Still Gets Win

Leandro Higo had the opportunity of a lifetime. With Darrion Caldwell unable to compete due to injury, Higo stepped up, set to challenge Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator bantamweight championship at Bellator 177 in Budapest, Hungary.

Instead, however, Higo missed weight. And the exciting, five-round title fight most Bellator fans were anticipating ended up being a three-round non-title bore fest.

Both moved into the center and traded blows to start things off. Dantas clearly moved on the offensive, but Higo had fine counters ready, such as catching kicks from Dantas. Dantas’ kicks to Higo’s legs, however, reddened Higo’s legs less than two minutes into the opening round. Higo attempts to come after Dantas with a flurry, but Dantas backs away. Higo caught Dantas with a leg kick and it seemed to stop him from doing so again. Round one felt slow, more like a “feeling each other out” kind of round.

Dantas attempts another leg kick at the start of round two, but Higo caught it — though still no takedown attempt to follow up. Two big head kick attempts by Higo, but Dantas dodges them both; Higo clearly struggled with the range deficit there. In fact, range was a problem for Higo throughout the first two rounds. The two clinch about halfway through the round, but the two break it not long after.

More inactivity before another big miss of a kick from Higo. Dantas gets a body lock on Higo against the cage. Higo transitioned and nearly got a takedown on Dantas and got him into a guillotine position. But the bantamweight champion got back up quickly. Higo got Dantas against the cage, in good position. The two traded knees before the bell rang.

Another slow start to round three — Higo did not return to using his hands. Higo hit a three-punch combo. Dantas hits a leg kick. The two move to the center of the cage, where both men stalled. The crowd got impatient quickly. Higo caught a kick from Dantas, and the bantamweight champion barely avoided a takedown. Front kick by Higo. Big miss of a round kick from Higo, and a couple of nice punches from Higo. Higo gets Dantas against the cage, tying up with him in a clinch. Dantas gets Higo off, but not before Higo lands a shot on the head. Three missed high kicks from Higo, and the fight comes to an end.

Dantas was given 30-27 wins on two judges’ scorecards, while the third judge scored the bout 29-28 in Higo’s favor.

Bellator 177 Official Results:
Catchweight (139 lbs.): Eduardo Dantas def. Leandro Higo via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
Featherweight: Daniel Weichel def. John Teixeira via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Women’s Flyweight: Lena Ovchynnikova def. Helen Harper via doctor’s stoppage TKO (Rd. 2, 5:00)
Catchweight (147 lbs.): Adam Borics def. Anthony Taylor via submission (rear-naked choke) (Rd. 1, 4:12)

Bellator 177 Preliminary Results:
Featherweight: Brian Moore def. Michal Horejsi via TKO (Rd. 2, 3:57)
Lightweight: Mate Kertesz def. Patrick Szombat via TKO (Rd. 2, 4:37)

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