Darrion Caldwell had a gameplan and he stuck to it.
The result was an unanimous call for Caldwell (11-1 MMA, 8-1 BMMA) over champion Eduardo Dantas (20-5 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) – and a brand new belt to show for his efforts.
The bantamweight tile bout headlined Friday’s Bellator 184, which took place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. It aired on Spike, along with the rest of the main card, following prelims on MMAjunkie.
Caldwell, who’d most recently avenged his sole career loss by beating Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 167, wrestled his way to his career’s biggest win yet. While Dantas did a good job at defending relentless takedown attempts – granted, with the occasional help from the fence – the time spent trying to escape the challenger’s grip meant lack of offense of his own.
The result was a five-round contest in which neither fighter gave up – but that could certainly have used more urgency by Dantas in the fifth.
It took 30 seconds of feeling out before Caldwell used a failed high kick by Dantas to pounce with a takedown attempt. Dantas was pushed against the cage and resisted for a bit, but soon had his legs flying in the air due to a beautiful suplex. Dantas got back up quickly, but Caldwell wouldn’t alleviate the pressure. With the bout seemingly deadlocked against the cage after a few minutes, the ref intervened. Back to the center of the cage, Caldwell landed some good left hooks before the round ended.
Dantas’ aggression to kick off the second round backfired when Caldwell was once more able to grab him. The fence work, however, didn’t last long this time. With the action back on the feet, Dantas kept on chasing Caldwell against the cage, while the challenger used his left hand and occasional kicks to keep the distance. While Dantas was the one pushing the action, he wasn’t landing anything significant. In the final minute-and-a-half, Caldwell rushed for a takedown, which Dantas stuffed. As they broke up, though, Caldwell landed a good elbow. The champ ate it and paid it back a few seconds later – this time, with a spinning backfist.
A spinning back kick to the body spelled a good moment for Dantas early in the third, but soon he saw himself fighting off Caldwell’s takedown attempts again. Pressed against the cage, Dantas, once more, refused to acquiesce. But, on-point takedown defense aside, the champ’s offense was continuously annulled. Eventually, though, the champ managed to get the action back where he wanted. As Caldwell’s exhaustion became apparent, Dantas capitalized: As the end of the third round approached, the champ was the one applying the pressure on the ground. But the round was over the second that Dantas got the mount.
After some tentative exchanges, Caldwell managed to land a takedown in the fourth – but Dantas, again, popped right back up. The two were once more against the cage. This time, though Dantas wasn’t merely defending takedowns, finding some ground offense of his own. Dantas managed to wrap Caldwell on body triangles twice, but, despite angling for it, he was never able to secure the challenger’s neck. Caldwell not only escaped, but was soon landing elbows from inside the champ’s guard. Dantas, now bloodied above his eye, fought his way back up and, once more, saw himself resisting Caldwell’s takedowns against the fence.
Two minutes into the fifth round, not much was happening. While one could see why Caldwell, probably aware it was his fight to lose, wasn’t too interested in engaging, Dantas’ lack of urgency was somewhat surprising. While the champ landed a few strikes and exerted some control over Caldwell in the ground, ending the bout wrapped around the challenger’s back, he ran out of time to find the title-saving finish.
Scorecards of 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 declared 29-year-old Caldwell Bellator’s new bantamweight champion. Dantas, who was defending the belt for a second time since reclaiming it from Marcos Galvao at Bellator 156 in June 2016, suffered his first setback in three years.
Bellator 184 results:
MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)
- Darrion Caldwell def. Eduardo Dantas via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45) – to win bantamweight title
- Emmanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Straus via submission (triangle choke) – Round 3, 1:56
- Pat Curran def. John Teixeira via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-26)
- Leandro Higo def. Joe Taimanglo via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
PRELIMINARY CARD (MMAjunkie, 7 p.m. ET)
- Manuel Muro def. Emmanuel Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sean Holden def. Shakir McKillip via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:39 – 160-pound catchweight
- Carrington Banks def. Steve Kozola via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-25)
- Chance Rencountre def. Justin Patterson via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 2:58
- Teagan Dooley def DeMarcus Simmons via submission (Americana) – Round 2, 2:12
- Westin Wilson def. L.J. Hermreck via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:55
- Kendall Carnahan def. Daniel Carey via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ernest James vs. Ray Jones
For more on Bellator 184, check out the MMA Events section of the site.
Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie