The contest served as the feature main event of Friday's "Bellator: Halsey vs. Grove" card at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.
Halsey nearly finished the fight in the early going, moving to an arm-triangle choke that would have finished a lesser opponent, but Grove somehow battled through the effort. Still, it was a one-sided round for the former champ.
Grove was able to avoid such a precarious position in the second, but he was still forced to be on the defensive throughout most of the frame. With a high-paced wrestling attack, Halsey simply pushed his way to the floor and enjoyed top position for almost the entirety of the round.
The pattern continued as the fight wore on, with Halsey simply overpowering his opponent and constantly earning himself the dominant position. Grove briefly threatened with an armbar in the fourth frame, but Halsey simply yanked his limb free and pounded away with punches shortly after until he earned the TKO win at the 2:25 mark of the frame.
The undefeated Halsey, who was stripped of the Bellator MMA Middleweight World Title for failing to make weight, will look to again earn the belt in his next appearance.
“I was my own worst enemy. It was how I performed. He didn't throw anything at me that I wasn't ready for. I was just trying to tough through the injury. I had to tough it out and come out with the victory,” Halsey said.
“Obviously, you want to be as dominant as possible. I just felt like I couldn't explode through my combinations or explode through the fight and finish how I wanted to. But like I said, you've got to deal with adversity, and I did it the best I could,” Halsey continued.
“I learned my lesson. I thank Bellator. I apologize to the commission. It's unprofessional not to make weight. No excuses, but anybody knows that it's hard to cut weight with an injury. The belt's just a decoration, so I'm still the champ in my eyes. No one has taken the belt from me.”
In the night's co-main event, former Bellator MMA Bantamweight World Champion Eduardo Dantas (17-4), of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, took a step toward another shot at the title with a hard-fought decision victory over the hard-hitting Mike Richman, of Rose Mount, Minn.
While Richman showed excellent takedown defense throughout the 15-minute affair, Dantas' work rate helped him earn the favor of the judges. Constantly pressing and looking to bring the fight to the floor, Dantas was able to just edge out Richman on the cards, 29-28 according to all three officials.
"I went out there and fought the way I trained to fight," Dantas said after the win. "I knew Mike Richman was going to come with everything, but I wanted to win this fight and get back to the title. The only fight that makes sense next is for the title.
In a welterweight contest, Fernando Gonzalez (24-13), of Menifee, Calif., scored a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over "Curtious" Curtis Millender (7-2), of San Bernardino, Calif.
With Millender enjoying a six-inch height advantage, the smaller Gonzalez struggled to score points in the first two rounds. But when the fight hit the floor in the third, Gonzalez latched onto a guillotine choke and earned a tap from his opponent at the 1:14 of the final round.
"I'm 4-0 right now," Gonzalez said after the win. "That's one step closer to the title, and I'm excited to get in there and mix it up with whoever is next."
With the result, Gonzalez now boasts four-straight Bellator MMA victories and put himself in line for a potential shot at the promotion’s Welterweight Title.
In the night's first main-card matchup, undefeated prospect Darrion Caldwell (7-0), of Rahway, N.J., used a superior wrestling game to outwork more experienced opponent Rafael Silva (22-5), of Lajes, Brazil, en route a unanimous-decision victory.
With Caldwell scoring takedowns throughout the matchup, Silva looked for submissions when available, but he simply couldn't find the necessary hold to work past his opponent's defense. Instead, Caldwell kept his pressure high, and judges awarded him the fight, 29-28 on all three cards.
After the victory, Caldwell made it clear he's clearing his way to a shot at the Bellator MMA World Title.
"I don't think there are any fighters out there as explosive as me at 135 pounds, or as fast," Caldwell said. "Eventually, I'll be able to prove that."
In the night's final preliminary bout, Guam's Joe Taimanglo (21-6-1) scored a third-round knockout of Mexico's Antonio Duarte (18-6).
Additionally, featherweight prospect Jordan Parsons (11-1), of San Diego, Calif., earned a third-round decision win over the previously undefeated Brazilian Julio Cesar Neves Jr. (30-1).
In a light heavyweight contest, Virgil Zwicker (14-4-1), of Temecula, Calif., earned a first-round knockout win over Razak Al-Hassan (12-5), of Milwaukee, Wisc.
And in the night's first fight, Ricky Rainey (11-3), of Gastonia, N.C., earned a second-round knockout win over Jessie Juarez (22-10), of Torrance, Calif.
About Bellator MMA
Bellator MMA is a leading Mixed Martial Arts organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, Bellator is available to nearly 400 million homes worldwide in over 120 countries. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on Spike, the MMA television leader. Bellator MMA is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Santa Monica, California and owned by entertainment giant Viacom, home to the world's premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.
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