Bellator’s headliners share spotlight with five local phenoms

Bellator #137The highly anticipated 13-bout lineup for the Bellator MMA May 15th show at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California has all the local gyms a flutter with anticipation. How so?


 

Along with the night’s featured bouts which include undefeated Bellator MMA World Middleweight Champ Brandon “Bull” Halsey (8-0) going up against the Hawaiian scrapper Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove (21-14), former Bellator Champion Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (16-4) going up against Mike “The Marine” Richman (18-5), welterweights Fernando “The Menifee Maniac” Gonzalez (23-13) vs. “Curtious” Curtis Millander (7-1) and bantamweights Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell (6-0) vs. Rafael “Morcego” Silva (22-4), they have five local scrapers: female featherweight A. J. Jenkins from Oceanside, Rolando Perez from the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, of course Fernando Gonzalez from Menifee, Steve “The Thunderbeast” Kozola (5-0, 4 KOs) from The Compound in Oceanside, Calif. and a gent currently on everyone’s radar heavyweight Virgil “Rez Dog” Zwicker, a local Kumeyaay-Ipai Native American.

Not wanting to steal anyone’s thunder, check out this recent article by Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting: “Virgil Zwicker got warmed up for Bellator fight by beating up would-be car thief.” You talk about fascinating people, it’s just a matter of time before Hollywood comes a knocking and has “Rez Dog” featured in a Davy Crockett-like movie.

Zwicker, who trains at Dan Henderson’s gym in Temecula, has just one loss in his last fight fights. 

Getting back to the evening’s featured bouts – the main card airs live and free on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, while the preliminary bouts will stream on Spike.com.

Middleweight Title Fight has the Champion 5’11” Brandon Halsey (8-0, 1 KO) from nearby Vista, CA being challenged by the 6’6” Kendall Grove (21-14, 4 KOs) from Maui, Hawaii.

Middleweight Title Fight: Champ Brandon Halsey (188.1 lbs.) vs. Kendall Grove (184.9 lbs.)

Middleweights Brandon Halsey (188.1 lbs.) vs. Kendall Grove (184.9 lbs.)

In a featured Bantamweight bout: Eduardo Dantas (16-4) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil vs. Mike Richman (18-5, 9 KOs) from Rosemount, Minnesota.

Bantamweight Fight: Eduardo Dantas (135.2 lbs.) vs. Mike Richman (139.8 lbs.)

(l to r) Bantamweights Eduardo Dantas (135.2 lbs.) vs. Mike Richman (139.8 lbs.)

 

Bellator featured Welterweight Fight: Fernando Gonzalez from Menefee, Calif. (23-13) vs. Curtis Millender (7-1) of San Bernardino, Calif.

Welterweight Fight: Fernando Gonzalez (170.9 lbs.) vs. Curtis Millender (170.8 lbs.)

Welterweights (r to l) Fernando Gonzalez (170.9 lbs.) vs. Curtis Millender (170.8 lbs.)

Bellator featured Bantamweight Fight: Darrion Caldwell (6-0) vs. Rafael Silva (22-4)

Bantamweight Fight: Darrion Caldwell (135.7 lbs.) vs. Rafael Silva (135.7 lbs.)

Bantamweights (l to r) Darrion Caldwell (135.7 lbs.) vs. Rafael Silva (135.7 lbs.)

As stated in their intros, Bellator has become one of the leading Mixed Martial Arts organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, they have made themselves available to nearly 400 million homes worldwide in over 120 countries. In the U. S., Bellator can be seen on Spike TV, the MMA television leader.

No doubt Coker’s innovative methods, such as offering us these Foundation mini-highlight reels, are making his organization a frontrunner in the sport.

Preliminary Card (7:45 p.m. ET)

Bellator Middleweights: Benjamin Radach (21-6, 17 KOs) vs. Ben Reiter (14-0-1, 7 KOs) from Coram, New York.

Middleweight Fight: Benji Radach (186 lbs.) vs. Ben Reiter (186 lbs.)

Middleweights Benji Radach (186 lbs.) vs. Ben Reiter (186 lbs.)

Bellator Light Heavyweights: Virgil Zwicker (13-4-1) vs. Razak Al-Hassan (12-4)

(top, l to r) Light Heavyweights: Virgil Zwicker (13-4-1) vs. Razak Al-Hassan (12-4)

Bellator Bantamweights: Joe Taimanglo (20-6-1) vs. Antonio Duarte (18-5)

Bantamweight Fight: Joe Taimanglo (136.2 lbs.) vs. Antonio Duarte (135.1 lbs.)

Bantamweights Joe Taimanglo (136.2 lbs.) vs. Antonio Duarte (135.1 lbs.)

Bellator Featherweights: Jordan Parsons (10-1) vs. Julio Cesar Neves Jr. (30-0)

Featherweight Fight: Jordan Parsons (145.5 lbs.) vs. Julio Cesar Neves Jr. (146 lbs.)

Featherweights Jordan Parsons (145.5 lbs.) vs. Julio Cesar Neves Jr. (146 lbs.)

Bellator Welterweights: (l to r) Jesse Juarez (22-9) vs. Ricky Rainey (10-3)

Jesse Juarez (171 lbs.) vs. Ricky Rainey (170.7 lbs.)

Jesse Juarez (171 lbs.) vs. Ricky Rainey (170.7 lbs.)

Preliminary Dark Fights (to start around 8 p.m. PT, 11:00 p.m. ET)

Bellator Lightweights: Shawn Bunch (3-1) vs. Rolando Perez (7-4)

Bantamweight Fight- Shawn Bunch (135.4 lbs.) vs. Rolando Perez (135.3 lbs.)

Bantamweights (l to r) – Shawn Bunch (135.4 lbs.) vs. Rolando Perez (135.3 lbs.)

Shawn Bunch (3-1) is one of MMA’s most elite-level wrestlers. This two-time NCAA Division I All-American and two-time U. S. Olympic Team alternate, trains with the famed American Kickboxing Academy and has spent his entire pro MMA career under the Bellator banner.

Rolando Perez, who comes from the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., home of Phil Davis and Dominick Cruz, is unbeaten in his last four contests. This 10-year veteran made his Bellator debut in November and fought to a rarely seen split draw.

Bellator Lightweights: Steve “The Thunderbeast” Kozola (5-0, 4 KOs) from the Compound in Oceanside, Calif. vs. Ian Butler (1-1) from Missouri.

Lightweight FtSteve Kozola (155.8 lbs.) vs. Ian Butler (155.2 lbs.)

(top, l to r) Lightweights Steve Kozola (155.8 lbs.) vs. Ian Butler (155.2 lbs.)

Bellator Female Lightweights: (left) A. J. Jenkins (17-5) from Oceanside, California (l) vs. (right) Arlene Blencowe (5-4) from Australia.

Featherweight Fight: A.J. Jenkins (146 lbs.) vs. Arlene Blencowe (145.8 lbs.)

Female Featherweight A. J. Jenkins (146 lbs.) vs. Arlene Blencowe (145.8 lbs.)

Back to our local stars: The 33 year-old Jenkins from Oceanside, California is considered one of the most experienced female competitors in MMA. She’s been fighting professionally since 2004. She’s fought such notables as Shayna Baszler, Tonya Evinger, Jan Finney, Kelly Kobold and Sarah Schneider.

Her opponent, Blencowe, an Australian native, is a world-class athlete and former Women’s IBA World light welterweight champion. After turning her attention to MMA in 2013, initially with mixed results, she’s adjusted and has now racked up three-consecutive wins by stoppage.

John Yoo of Irvine, Calif. is making his professional debut against Albert Morales (1-0) of Carson, California. Morales picked up a submission victory in his first Bellator fight which coincidentally was his first professional MMA contest.

Bantamweight Fight: John Yoo (135.4 lbs.) vs. Albert Morales (134.4 lbs.)

Bantamweights John Yoo (135.4 lbs.) vs. Albert Morales (134.4 lbs.)

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About the Author

Jim Wyatt, a 1970 graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has written weekly sports features for several Military newspapers, WCKMuayThai.com, SportofBoxing.com and Examiner.com as their San Diego Boxing Examiner. He was one of the four "Wise Guys" who predicted winning football selections versus the Vegas spreads. Some of the people he enjoyed meeting: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, WWF Wrestler Lita, LaDainian Tomlinson, Nate Kaeding and Darren Bennett of the Chargers, Tony Gwynn and Jake Peavy of the Padres, soccer stars Shannon MacMillan and Julie Foudy, Mixed Martial Artists Cris Cyborg, Junior Dos Santos, the Nogueira brothers plus the many great people involved in boxing and Muaythai.