You can call it a fluke or call it a learning experience, but however you may want to reckon Joe Taimanglo’s July upset of Darrion Caldwell, the latter now has vengeance and redemption.
Saturday night, headlining the second of two back-to-back bills on consecutive nights at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., the 2009 NCAA Division I wrestling champion Caldwell avenged his lone career loss from this past summer, grinding out Taimanglo en route to a complete 30-27 shutout on the official scorecards at Bellator 167.
At Bellator 159 in Kansas this past July, the 28-year-old Caldwell, then undefeated, dominated for two rounds with his outstanding wrestling before diving head-first into a fight-ending guillotine early in round three, producing one of 2016’s most shocking MMA upsets. This time around, the bantamweight prospect employed the same strategy, but with no slip-ups, grounding the Guam native for the full 15 minutes and beating him up on top throughout. Though Taimanglo had a decent look at a figure-four guillotine early in round one, his chances never got any better as the former North Carolina State wrestler grounded him repeatedly and controlled the action.
His lone career loss avenged, Alliance MMA’s Caldwell moves to 10-1 in his pro career. The loss drops Taimanglo to 23-7-1.
In the co-feature of the evening, once-beaten Brazilian featherweight “Macapa” John Teixeira de Conceicao rolled past fellow Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Justin Lawrence via unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Teixeira, whose lone pro loss came in via split decision in his only UFC bout at UFC 147 against Hugo Viana in June 2012, was simply too active and attacking for Lawrence. While the American sought to circle the cage and counterattack from the outset, Teixeira’s lead left hooks, long right crosses and eventually, head kicks and knees, left Lawrence little chance to get his shots off, forcing him to the defense for most of the 15 minutes.
At 125 pounds, unbeaten up-and-comer Ilima-Lei Macfarlane overcame a legitimate test from Emily Ducote before taking scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice. MacFarlane had top position for most of the bout, but she was swept by Ducote twice in round one, as well as again late. Ultimately, however, Ducote’s sweeps and top attacks came too late to override MacFarlane’s superior takedowns and pounding attack on top, moving MacFarlane to 5-0 as a pro.
Though he was unable to make the 170-pound weight limit at weigh-ins on Friday, Chidi Njokuani needed just 21 seconds to dispose of previously unbeaten Portuguese native Andre Fialho. A rushing Fialho ran straight into a hard Njokuani jab, dropping him to his back, where “Chidi Chidi Bang Bang” put him away with quick, accurate ground-and-pound punches. With the victory, the younger of the fighting Njokuani brothers is now undefeated over his last eight bouts.
The undercard’s primary draw was the pro MMA debut of light heavyweight Bellator MMA signing Jarod Twice, a three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Central Michigan. Trice earned a majority decision over an overmatched but game Tommie Britton, who spent most of the bout with his back to the fence, being dirty boxed soundly by Trice. While Trice clearly won every round and took scores of 30-25 and 30-26 from judges Dan Mathisen and Todd Anderson, judge Don Turnage inexplicably produced a 28-28 draw scorecard in one of the most confusing judging tallies in recent memory.
Elsewhere: at 170 pounds, Justin Patterson avenged his submission loss from Bellator 146 just over a year ago, to Codale Ford via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28); lightweight Jonathan Gary started slow but used superior offense and position to outpoint Aaron Roberson with three 29-28 scores and heavyweight Bronson St. Romaine (29-28, 29-28, 28-27) earned a unanimous verdict over Joey Soto in the night’s opener.