The main event of Bellator 293 on Friday night in Temecula, CA was a battle of ranked heavyweights in Marcelo Golm and Daniel James.
Golm was ranked #5, James at #7 in the weight class, where Linton Vassell was expected to get the next shot at champ Ryan Bader.
The fight started out slow — but ended in a flash when the third round arrived.
In the opening round, an early front kick was timed by James, who used it to dump Golm and get in position for some ground n’ pound. But the expected onslaught never came, with Golm getting vertical again almost immediately.
The pair then wound up tied up along the fence, with Golm in control initially, and James later reversing. James would fire a couple of knees from that position, until they reversed, then reversed again.
When the pair came off the fence, still clinching, it was James coming over the top with an elbow. But Golm moved back to the fence while working the body — only for James to reverse.
You could barely slip a sheet of paper between the two for much of the opening frame, so close was the clinch between them. However James found some space at the end of the round, opening up and firing off a handful of heavy punches. None would do much damage, however.
The opening half of round two played out similar to the first. In the second half, however, Golm got the fight down, gliding into half-guard. James had his head well away from the fence, and Golm appeared to be setting up an arm-triangle choke. While he wasn’t close to pulling it off, he was eating time off the clock while in a dominant position, and adding punches to the body. If nothing else, James was losing the round and unable to do anything off his back.
After a pep talk from his corner ahead of the third, Daniel James woke up. Living up to his “American Predator” nickname, James put the fight away care of three punches: an uppercut, a left, and a right hand as Golm was already on his way down. The ref moved in to make the save, and after a disastrous second round, James had stormed back to claim victory in the third.
.@djames1981 with the finish at #Bellator293 pic.twitter.com/vQS3URdQqG
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) April 1, 2023
James called for the fight with Bader after the win. “I would love to share the cage with Bader,” James said, adding that he was a big fan of the champ.
Official Result: Daniel James def. Marcelo Golm by TKO (punches), Round 3, 0:26