Darrion Caldwell appears to have positioned himself for a run at history.
The reigning Bellator MMA bantamweight champion moved up to 145 pounds and overwhelmed Noad Lahat in the Bellator 204 headliner on Friday, as he put away the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran with punches in the second round at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lahat wilted 2:46 into Round 2.
Caldwell masked his takedowns with kicks to the leg and head, keeping his counterpart guessing. He secured a takedown early in the second round, successfully navigated the Lahat guard and ultimately transitioned to the top ride position. Caldwell then fed the judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt punches until the job was done and referee Mike Beltran had no choice but to intervene.
In the aftermath of Bellator 204 “Caldwell vs. Lahat,” here are four matches that ought to be made:
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Darrion Caldwell vs. Patricio Freire-Emmanuel Sanchez winner: Caldwell made his intentions known after he cut through Lahat, as the Alliance MMA star set his sights on featherweight champion Patricio Freire and becoming the first-ever simultaneous two-division Bellator titleholder. “The Wolf” now owns a stellar 10-1 record in the promotion and has rattled off four straight wins, having beaten Lahat, Leandro Higo, Eduardo Dantas and Joe Taimanglo during his current tear. Caldwell’s stock has never been higher. Freire will defend his featherweight crown against Sanchez in November.
Logan Storley vs. David Rickels: One of the rising stars in the welterweight division, Storley tore through A.J. Matthews in the co-main event at 170 pounds and forced a second-round stoppage due to elbow strikes and punches. Matthews met his end 3:56 into Round 2. Storley struck for repeated takedowns, threatened with a variety of submissions and did real damage with his ground-and-pound. A four-time NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Minnesota, the 25-year-old Hard Knocks 365 export has won all four of his fights since joining Bellator a little more than a year ago. Rickels saw his two-fight winning streak snapped at Bellator 200, where he succumbed to blows from Michael Page on May 25.
Ricky Bandejas vs. Dominic Mazzotta: Bandejas electrified the MMA world in his promotional debut, as he wiped out previously unbeaten SBG Ireland prospect James Gallagher with punches in the first round of their bantamweight feature. The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder sat down the bravado-filled Gallagher with a clean right hand and then swarmed him with precision and purpose. A side kick to the face was followed by more punches that drove the dazed Irishman to the ground and left him unable to defend himself. Bandejas pounded him unconscious 2:49 into Round 1. Mazzotta gone 11-1 over his past 12 outings, a knockout loss to A.J. McKee his only misstep.
Tywan Claxton vs. Gaston Bolanos: Claxton went the distance for the first time as a professional and remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over Cris Lencioni in a three-round featherweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for the 25-year-old Strong Style Fight Team prospect. Claxton executed takedowns in all three rounds and gradually wore down his counterpart with positional control and ground-and-pound. Bolanos, 25, last appeared at Bellator 199 on May 12, when he stopped Malcolm Hill with leg kicks in the first round and upped his record to 3-1.