Darrion Caldwell is still a good bet to hold the Bellator MMA bantamweight championship some day — but it won’t be as soon as some thought.
Widely considered one of the top prospects in the entire sport, Caldwell (9-1) suffered a stunning defeat to Joe Taimanglo (23-6-1) on Friday. After dominating the first two rounds, Caldwell tapped to a Taimanglo guillotine just nine seconds into the third. The 135-pound fight headlined Bellator 159 at Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
A former NCAA Division I wrestling champion, Caldwell entered the bout as high as a 12-to-1 betting favorite. He had actually secured a Bellator title shot by defeating Joe Warren in March, but agreed to fight Taimanglo in the meantime. Current champion Eduardo Dantas will now receive a new challenger to defend his title against.
Taimanglo, who has won four in a row, offered to take the spot.
“This feels amazing,” Taimanglo said. “I know I earned the No. 1 spot with a win over Darion.”
Caldwell, 28, did not look spectacular in the opening rounds — but he certainly was in control. He took down Taimanglo with relative ease in each frame and more or less had his way on the floor.
He made one tactical mistake in the first round, when he allowed Taimanglo to take his back after aggressively attempting a kimura. Caldwell escaped the bad position quickly, though, and clearly won the round. He made it 2-0 in the middle frame, once again taking down Taimanglo and spending the majority of the time in his opponent’s half guard.
A poorly disguised shot did Caldwell in late, however, as Taimanglo easily sprawled on the double leg and went straight into the guillotine. Caldwell tapped instantly.
Guillard demolishes Rickels in Round 1
Lightweight Melvin Guillard (33-16-2) picked up a first-round TKO against David Rickels (17-5), finishing the fight with elbows on the ground at the 2:14 mark. Guillard hurt Rickels with a right hand on the feet, which eventually set up the finish. Guillard, 33, missed weight for the 155-pound fight. It was the fourth time in five fights Guillard had missed weight. Shortly after the fight, he announced he was moving permanently up to welterweight and would like to face British slugger Paul Daley. Friday marked Guillard’s first win since 2014.