Darrion Caldwell proved he is on another level Friday night at Bellator 151 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. He owned Joe Warren, defeating him in the first round via rear-naked choke.
If you had to describe Caldwell's victory in a word, it would be "dominant."
He ran through Warren—a two-time Bellator champion—like he was in his first professional mixed martial arts fight. Caldwell landed a takedown within the first 20 seconds of the fight, turned the former champion belly-down and put him to sleep with the choke to end it.
There may not be a better bantamweight in the world—and that includes UFC champion Dominick Cruz. Caldwell is that nasty.
Brent Brookhouse of MMA Junkie feels the same way:
Damn, Caldwell is REALLY good.— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) March 5, 2016
The end came via choke, but before Warren went to sleep, Caldwell took his opponent to Suplex City, via Fanaticos del MMA GT:
This was a tour de force performance by a 28-year-old who seems destined to wear Bellator gold sooner rather than later. When the fight was over, Caldwell used some colorful language to call out champion Marcos Galvao.
The champion was set to face former titleholder Eduardo Dantas in a rematch February 26, but Galvao pulled out because of an illness. Dantas will likely get his shot at Galvao before Caldwell will.
No matter who's holding the title when Caldwell gets his chance, the champion will be in for a heck of a battle. Here's a look at the results from Friday's main card:
|Sirwan Kakai vs. Joe Taimanglo||Bantamweight||Taimanglo wins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Goiti Yamauchi vs. Bubba Jenkins||Featherweight||Jenkins wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-27)|
|Gilbert Smith vs. Fernando Gonzalez||Welterweight||Gonzalez wins by split decision (29-28, 29-28. 28-29)|
|Joe Warren vs. Darrion Caldwell||Bantamweight||Caldwell wins by submission (rear-naked choke in first round)|
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Baby Joe Outworks Kakai
Thanks to his strong first and second rounds, Joe Taimanglo earned a unanimous-decision victory over Sirwan Kakai. Taimanglo controlled the first round with his ground game.
He looked to be seconds away from securing a submission victory with an anaconda choke, but Kakai escaped. Despite avoiding the submission, Kakai couldn't find his own offense. Taimanglo controlled the center of the cage in the second frame with a more active body and more effective striking.
Kakai took the third round, but he couldn't get the stoppage he needed. He was upset after the bout, but he didn't whine about the decision:
No excuses, we will see where I go from here— Sirwan Kakai (@Sirwan_Kakai) March 5, 2016
He needed to be more aggressive in the second round. When Kakai looks back on this loss, that'll be the round he regrets the most.
Bubba Gets Biggest Win of His Career
The battle between Bubba Jenkins (28 years old) and Goiti Yamauchi (23 years old) was a clash between two of the best young featherweights in the world. Jenkins' wrestling was the difference as he earned a unanimous-decision victory.
Jenkins ventured into Yamauchi's vaunted guard, and he lived to talk about it. Yamauchi sold out for submission attempts (armbar and kimura) on several occasions, but he was unable to trap Jenkins.
The ground-and-pound did enough damage for Jenkins to take the final two rounds. He didn't deserve to win the first round, but oddly, one judge gave it to him. When it was over, Jenkins celebrated with his family and a snazzy hat, via Bellator:
The victory put Jenkins on the cusp of a shot at the Bellator Featherweight Championship. His submission defense and cardio seem to have improved since his submission loss to Georgi Karakhanyan in January 2015.
Jenkins has now won three straight fights.
Smith Got a Raw Deal
Gilbert Smith deserved to win the decision over Fernando Gonzalez. He kept the Bellator veteran on the defensive throughout most of the fight, but Gonzalez got the nod from the judges.
Smith's strength and cardio appeared to allow him to do the better work. That was especially the case in the final round, when he landed solid shots in stand-up and controlled Gonzalez on the ground.
Unfortunately for Smith, only one of the judges felt he won two of the three rounds.
Smith was a semi-late replacement for Michael "Venom" Page, who bowed out in early February. Despite the defeat, Smith made an excellent account of himself. He should get another main-card shot at a future Bellator event.
Perhaps Gonzalez will finally get his shot at Page, who he accused of ducking him to protect his record, per Tristen Critchfield of Sherdog.
Gonzalez's win and accusation should make the bout more intriguing if it ever happens.
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