This past Saturday in the main event of Bellator 299 from Dublin, the middleweight title was on the line. This matchup had some bad blood behind it as champion Johnny Eblen (14-0) was looking to remain champion and amongst the unbeaten as he took on Fabian Edwards (12-3).
Entering the fight, conventional wisdom thought that Eblen needed to take this fight to the ground. Eblen is a sensational wrestling while Edwards is known for his fantastic striking. That said, Eblen was looking to make a statement that he could strike with anyone in the division in addition to his sensational wrestling.
Early on, Eblen was tested by Edwards. Edwards opened up a nasty gash just above the eye of the champion with a slicing elbow. Eblen wasn’t able to just run through Edwards like he had ran through everyone else. That said, right after the third round started, Eblen landed a huge shot that sent Edwards down.
The Bellator champion swarmed with big shots and Edwards went out. After the fact, Eblen got into Edwards’ face and really celebrated the big time victory causing a heated exchange between Eblen and UFC champ Leon Edwards.
What’s next after Bellator 299?
Johnny Eblen has a perfect record as a professional and still holds the promotion’s middleweight title. That said, he might’ve just fought for the final time inside a Bellator cage. At this point, it’s well-known that the promotion is currently up for sale and the PFL is in talks to purchase the promotion.
If that were to happen, it’s likely that Bellator would just fold into the PFL. Currently, the PFL doesn’t have a middleweight division so Eblen could lead the charge there. However, let’s say that Bellator continues to operate on it’s own or finds a different financial backer that keeps the doors open, who should Eblen fight next?
It’s really tricky right now. When you look at the rankings, there’s not really a great matchup for him. The next man up would likely be Aaron Jeffery who is currently 3-1 in the promotion with his lone loss coming against John Salter. However, he was the first man to defeat Dalton Rosta last month and just might be the best challenger for the Bellator middleweight title.