Bellator 204: “Caldwell vs. Lahat” took place last night (Fri., Aug. 17, 2018) at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Nothing was on the line but pride in the main event as Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell (12-1) went up to 145 to face Featherweight contender Noad Lahat (12-3).
After a night of exciting and wild fights the first round of this bout let the air out of the building. Caldwell sprawled to block a shoot from Lahat, got a takedown in response, and then rode out the most of the round on top. He’d try to pass and Lahat would force the action back into his guard time and time again. Caldwell won but didn’t do much damage.
Caldwell got things rolling in the second round after another quick takedown. Lahat tried to sit up against the fence and Caldwell spun to his back and got one hook in. When Caldwell went for the rear naked choke, Lahat rolled to escape and tried to scramble, but Caldwell jumped on his back and rained down rights to the head until referee Mike Beltran stepped in.
The official time of the KO was 2:46 of round two. John McCarthy interviewed “The Wolf” Darrion Caldwell after his successful return to Featherweight.
“I feel good. I’m just grateful to be able to come back to a fight. A lot of shit happens so to be able to get back in the cage means a lot to me. I’m looking for the armpit brothers. They talk a lot of shit. You keep talking shit and don’t want a fight. Really? Step up. Sign a contract, sign it against me and let’s do this. Alliance MMA has the best fighters in the world. Expect us to come out in 2019 strong.”
In the co-main event Webster, South Dakota’s own Logan Storley (8-0) put his undefeated record on the line against a man with double his experience in Bellator MMA veteran A.J. Matthews (9-7).
The first round was a bit controversial. Storley manhandled Matthews for almost the entire frame but with a little over a minute left in Round 1 he hit a left knee to the head from side control, leaving a big knot on Matthews’ head and a doctor questioning whether he was okay to continue. After several minutes Matthews was cleared but he finished the round the same way - on his back with Storley in control.
Fortunately the second round (and the fight) ended without any further controversy. Storley took Matthews down 16 seconds into the frame and continued to hammer away, working to Matthews back two minutes in and landing one uncontested right hand after another.
Any way Matthews rolled to escape was bad news. Storley jumped on top of him in half guard and blasted away with his right elbow over, and over, and over until well after the point it probably should have been over. Referee Jason Herzog finally saved Matthews from himself at 3:56 by TKO.
“Big” John McCarthy stepped into the Bellator cage to talk to Webster’s own after the bout.
“I hit him with my elbows and I just did a lot of damage. I spent the last eight weeks preparing for this moment in my home state of South Dakota. Thank you everyone. I have to give all the credit in the world to A.J. for coming back and continuing to fight. I messed up, I went for the shoulder and hit the head. Thank you.”
“The Strabanimal” James Gallagher (7-0) also looked to keep his perfect record in tact, but unlike our main event he chose to go down a weight class to 135 to face newcomer Ricky Bandejas (10-1). Gallagher couldn’t wait to get this fight started.
More patience might have been advised. A fast start for Gallagher didn’t pay dividends, and when Bandejas had his moment, he was the one who landed the right hand that dropped Gallagher on his butt. As the brash Irishman tried to regain his wits he took a left foot to the chin that wobbled him again and then got pounded out on the ground.
“The Strabanimal” was handed his first professional loss via knockout at 2:49 of the first round. John McCarthy interviewed Bandejas afterward and welcomed him to Bellator.
“I put the practice time in the gym with my coaches and stayed calm. That’s how it’s done. They’re the best in the world and I followed in their footsteps to get this through.”
Also set for the main card was a bout between Featherweight prospects Tywan Claxton (2-0) and Cris Lencioni (4-1). There was bad blood between them at the weigh-ins and more bad blood between them during the fight. Claxton openly mocked Lencioni’s fight style in the first round, causing Mike Beltran to have to step between them after the bell.
In the second and third round Claxton dominated by taking Lencioni down, backing away to avoid a stand-up and upkicks, then getting back on top to maul him some more. Lencioni wasn’t done after the third frame and Beltran had to get between them again.
In the end the judges returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Tywan “Air” Claxton, improving to 3-0 with the win. John McCarthy interviewed him afterward.
“I’ve got great BJJ coaches, and I am one of the best purple belts, and I watched his fights. I know he likes that series where he goes for an armbar and a triangle so I was very well prepared. Neil Melanson taught me to pressure. Guys he asked for a catch weight 30 minutes before weigh ins even started. We’re professional fighters we’re grown men. If you say you’re going to make weight you make weight. That just got under my skin a little bit. A the weigh ins he started talking trash. How you gonna talk trash when you don’t make weight?”
For complete Bellator 204 results and coverage click here.