Bellator 195 “Caldwell vs. Higo” took place last night (Fri., Mar. 2, 2018) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The main event featured a recently crowned champion putting up his Bantamweight title for the very first time.
Darrion Caldwell (11-1) came in with a nearly spotless record aside from a fluke loss in 2016, having bested Eduardo Dantas last October to claim the crown at 135 lbs. The last man to nearly beat Dantas was “Pitbull” Leandro Higo (18-3), and he would be Caldwell’s first opponent since winning the belt.
Caldwell was clearly not getting paid by the round. He scored a takedown two minutes in, took Higo right back down when he popped up, locked a long arm around Higo’s neck and got the guillotine choke submission at 2:36.
The victorious defending champion spoke to Chael Sonnen after the lightning quick main event and started taunting the Pitbull Brothers team.
“Ay! I’m not calling none of you chumps out. If you want some come get some. I don’t give a shit. Who is this Baby Joe you speak of? Michael McDonald, Eduardo Dantas, shit give this guy a rematch I’ll run right through him. I’m lining the Pitbull Brothers up. 1, 2, 3, next is you bro. Stay in your place boy! I knew soon as I got my hands on him it was gonna be a wrap. He’s not that strong. These 135ers aren’t that strong. You’re gonna see.”
Two fighters familiar to the champion also stepped into the spotlight in Thackerville. Multiple time world champion Joe Warren (15-6) faced the only man to hand Caldwell a loss in Joe Taimanglo (23-8-1).
Taimanglo flew across the right at the opening bell, catching Warren off guard and briefly getting him to the ground. Warren popped back up at 23 seconds and started going for his own takedowns, but Taimanglo was able to repeatedly punish Warren with rights, rocking him multiple times but not landing a definitive knockout blow. A defensive takedown at 4:20 saved Warren from more punishment.
Warren did not have much success with the takedown in Round 2, and Taimanglo continued to plaster him with hard right hooks, leaving Warren looking perplexed and having to try flying knees and wild swinging hooks. Taimanglo stayed patient and calm, stuffed the takedowns, and landed power shots.
Both men opted for takedown attempts in the third and final frame but surprisingly it was Taimanglo who scored them more often and effectively. Warren got up with very short time left and got a takedown straight into Taimanglo’s guillotine choke, but popped his head out with brute strength and was on top at the bell.
The judges were left to render a verdict either way and returned 30-27 Taimanglo, 29-28 Warren, and 30-27 for Taimanglo by split decision.
The post-fight interview went to the recently signed Jon Fitch instead of to the winner, with Mike Goldberg announcing he’d face Paul Daley on May 12th.
“Jon Fitch is a fine wine. I get better with age. I can’t wait to get into Bellator and mess some people up. I think the Paul Daley match up is a great match up for me. I’m gonna put him in the fence and beat him up. That’s the plan. I’ve got a thick skin. He’s not gonna get through this alligator skin any time soon.”
The surprising Kristina Williams (1-0), fresh off an upset win over Heather Hardy, received a huge challenge for her second bout with veteran MMA fighter Emily Ducote (6-3).
As you can tell from the tale of the tape, Williams had a substantial height and reach advantage, and she used both of them effectively in round one as her muay thai kicks and effective hands and elbows blackened Ducote’s left eye. A late takedown for Ducote with short time didn’t win back the round.
The longer this fight drew on the more apparent the striking advantage became for Williams. Even when Ducote threw the first shot, Williams would land 2-3 in a row in response, causing multiple contusions and cuts all over Ducote’s face. Her nose was bleeding as Round 2 drew to an end.
Ducote made a huge comeback late in Round 3 with a takedown that saw her transition quickly from side control to full mount and go for an armbar with short time. She narrowly missed locking it up as Williams grabbed her own arm defensively and rode out the position until the bell.
Inexplicably one judge gave Ducote all three rounds. The others gave Williams the 29-28 victory by split decision, sending her to Chael Sonnen for the post-fight interview.
“She was so tough. I like to counter strike a lot so that was a big part of it. I was pretty quick, I knew what she was doing (with the armbar) so it wasn’t too tight at all.”
Also featured on the Bellator 195 main card was a man who has only lost once (in WSOF) in Juan Archuleta taking on the middling 17-14 fighter William Joplin.
Archuleta came out fast and furious to open the fight, and after he rocked Joplin with an uppercut he took him down at 53 seconds. For the rest of the round “The Spaniard” Archuleta pounded away on the ground, taking Joplin right back down whenever he got up to deliver more damage.
Confidence for Archuleta was high in round two. He opted to throw spinning cartwheel kicks and backfists, and Joplin mimicked him in kind. Neither man connected but Archuleta did connect with the takedown, grinding away on top until Jerin Valel stood them up with a half minute left. Archuleta popped Joplin with a 1-2 and spun him around for another takedown to end the round.
The wily veteran Joplin proved to be too tough to finish in the final five minutes, but that didn’t stop Archuleta from repeatedly popping him with the 1-2 and swelling Joplin’s left eye shut. Another slam of a takedown forced Joplin to work his way back to his feet, eating knees all the way up.
With 10 seconds to go both men said “screw defense” and started swinging away wildly at each other until the bell. The judges returned a verdict of all in favor of Juan Archuleta — a lopsided 30-26, 30-24 and 30-23.
For complete Bellator 195 results and coverage click here.