Heavyweight is a notoriously shallow division in mixed martial arts, meaning the Bellator 293 main event between Marcelo Golm and Daniel James was a battle that could earn the winner a shot at the Bellator heavyweight championship. In the clash of big men riding four-fight winning streaks, James was able to land a series of heavy blows in the third round to score a TKO in the biggest fight of his career.
James wasted little time in catching a kick and using that to drive Golm into the ground. Unfortunately for James, his grappling was not up to the task of keeping Golm on his back, allowing Golm to get to his feet quickly. The fight turned into a clinch battle with both men trying to wear on the other by finding grappling attacks along the cage until the opening round came to a close.
After landing a series of heavy leg kicks to start Round 2, Golm was able to secure a takedown and dominate the round positionally. Despite securing top position for the round, Golm was never close to securing the finish, which proved his undoing.
The third round saw James emerge with a burst of aggression, pushing forward with heavy punches and forcing Golm onto the back foot. Eventually, James was able to land a big uppercut and hard right hand that put Golm on the canvas to secure the TKO victory at the 0:26 mark of the round.
𝗛𝗘'𝗦 𝗢𝗨𝗧! 👊💥@djames1981 storms out of the gates in round 3 and gets the KO!#Bellator293 | Watch LIVE on @SHOsports pic.twitter.com/3RYahPnsTV— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) April 1, 2023
After scoring the victory, James credited his coach with encouraging him to let his strikes go heading into the third round.
"He told me that the whole night last night," James said after the fight. "I just had to sit down and really think about it. I just had to think about our purpose ... the fight was going one way, I felt, and I had to let the hands go. I had to believe in myself and I just won."
James' win is his second in the Bellator cage and moves him inches from a shot at Ryan Bader and the Bellator heavyweight title and he wasted little time in calling out the champion.
"You know, Bader is in the crowd," James said. "Bader knows I want him. He's a good guy. ... I know he said he hasn't been fighting anybody that is worthy and I want to give him that shot. I'm worthy. ... I want the opportunity to fight Bader."