Leandro Higo may have been a deserving challenger, but Darrion Caldwell made him look like something less.
Caldwell retained the Bellator MMA bantamweight championship and did so in resounding fashion, as he submitted Higo with a guillotine choke in the first round of their Bellator 195 headliner on Friday at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Higo (18-4, 1-2 Bellator) conceded defeat 2:36 into Round 1, submitting for the first time in his 22-fight career.
After the two men traded low kicks, Caldwell (12-1, 9-1 Bellator) swooped in for a pair of takedowns, the second more secure than the first. Higo attempted to rise to an upright position but left his neck exposed in the process. Caldwell bit down on a crouching guillotine against the fence, moved to a mounted position and prompted the tapout.
Now operating out of the Alliance MMA camp, Caldwell has rattled off three straight wins.
Related » Bellator 195 Round-by-Round Scoring
In the bantamweight co-main event, onetime Pacific Xtreme Combat champion Joe Taimanglo put an end to a two-fight losing streak with a split decision over Joe Warren. Judges Michael Bell and David Sutherland scored it 30-27 for Taimanglo, while Dan Mathisen struck a 29-28 scorecard for Warren.
Taimanglo (24-8-1, 7-4 Bellator) set the tone from the start, as he utilized an effective sprawl and rattled the former two-division Bellator champion on multiple occasions with right hands inside the first five minutes. Warren (15-7, 13-6 Bellator) delivered takedowns in the first and third rounds but had considerable difficulty consolidating his efforts with damage or positional control. More often than not, Taimanglo squirmed free and returned to his feet, where he was the superior fighter.
Warren, 41, has lost four of his past seven bouts.
Meanwhile, TKO Combat Sports rep Kristina Williams outstruck Emily Ducote for the better part of two rounds and walked away with a split decision in their women’s flyweight showcase. Judges Michael Bell and Dan Mathisen saw it 29-28 for Williams, while Eric Colon cast a dissenting 30-27 nod in Ducote’s favor.
Williams (2-0, 2-0 Bellator) fired off two-, three- and four-punch combinations, often punctuating them with a kick to the leg, body or head. She made the most of a six-inch height and three-inch reach advantage. Though she was bleeding from the nose and from a cut near her left eye, Ducote (6-4, 3-3 Bellator) had her moments. She did her best work late in the third round, where she secured a takedown, passed to side control and achieved full mount before applying her ground-and-pound and transitioning to a last-second armbar. Williams extricated herself from danger, waited for time to run out and escaped with the decision.
Ducote, 24, has suffered back-to-back defeats.
Elsewhere, former King of the Cage champion Juan Archuleta extended his winning streak to 13 fights with a unanimous decision over William Joplin in a three-round featherweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it for Archuleta (18-1, 1-0 Bellator): 30-26, 30-24 and 30-23.
Joplin (15-15, 0-1 Bellator) had the heart but not the skills. Archuleta wore down the Resurrection Fighting Alliance veteran with repeated takedowns and punishing ground-and-pound, integrating effective combination punching in the standup exchanges whenever possible. He nearly finished it with an uppercut and follow-up punches in the first round, executed multiple takedowns in the second and threatened with arm-triangle and brabo chokes in the third.
The 39-year-old Joplin has lost three of his last four fights.
In other action, Aaron Webb stopped Thomas Lopez with punches 3:11 into the first round of their featherweight confrontation; Kevin Holland submitted Teagan Dooley with a triangle choke 2:59 into the first round of their middleweight tilt; Daniel Carey took a unanimous decision from Cris Williams in a three-round battle at 170 pounds, drawing 29-28 marks from all three judges; Romero Cotton submitted Justin Reeser with a rear-naked choke 4:35 into the second round of their middleweight affair; Fernando Gonzalez Trevino submitted Armando Servin with an armbar 2:24 into the first round of their catchweight clash at 175 pounds; Justin Patterson disposed of Brian Grinnell with knees and punches 4:49 into the first round of their welterweight pairing; and Ky Bennett submitted Morgan Solis with a keylock 3:37 into the second round of their women’s flyweight encounter.