Darrion Caldwell made one mistake, and Joe Taimanglo capitalized on it.
Tamainglo submitted the heavily favored Caldwell with a third-round guillotine choke in the Bellator 159 headliner on Saturday at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas. A No. 1 contender in waiting, Caldwell (9-1, 6-1 UFC) tapped nine seconds into round three, throwing the top of the Bellator MMA bantamweight division into an immediate state of upheaval behind champion Eduardo Dantas.
Caldwell controlled virtually all 10 minutes of the first two rounds, utilizing takedowns and suffocating top control to corral the former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion. He briefly mounted Taimanglo in the first round and connected with a flying knee in the second but failed to shake the Guam native’s resolve. Early in round three, Caldwell swooped in for an ill-advised double-leg and found himself hopelessly entangled in the guillotine. Taimanglo (23-6-1), who missed weight for the match, secured his grip and squeezed for the submission.
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In the co-main event, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Melvin Guillard disposed of David Rickels with a violent volley of first-round punches and elbows. Guillard, whose failure to make weight resulted in the bout being contested at a 158-pound catchweight, closed out “The Caveman” 2:14 into round one.
Rickels (17-5) let his guard down in close quarters and paid a steep price. Guillard (33-16-2) dazed him with a short right elbow in the clinch, followed-up with punches and drove the Derby, Kansas, native to the canvas. There, Rickels failed to adequately defend himself, as hammerfists, punches and elbows fell in rapid-fire succession. The last two elbows Guillard landed opened a cut near Rickels’ left eye and appeared to briefly knock him unconscious.
The win put a stop to Guillard’s career-worst three-fight losing streak and likely saved his place on the Bellator roster. The 33-year-old New Orleans native indicated he plans to move to welterweight for future fights.
Meanwhile, former M-1 Global champion Daniel Weichel registered his ninth win in 10 appearances, as he was awarded a split decision over Emmanuel Sanchez in a featured featherweight confrontation. Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 for Weichel and 30-27 for Sanchez.
Though he threw fewer of them, Weichel (37-9) made his strikes count. The 31-year-old German export fed the Roufusport standout a steady diet of lead right hands paired with occasional jabs while upping the pressure with occasional clinches and takedown attempts. Sanchez (13-3) leaned on punch-to-kick combinations throughout but proved far less efficient than his more experienced counterpart. The Duke Roufus protégé stayed active with kicks to the head, body and legs but failed to exact enough of a toll to gain favor with the judges.
The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Sanchez.
Elsewhere, Emily Ducote submitted the previously unbeaten Bruna Vargas with a second-round rear-naked choke in a women’s flyweight showcase. Based at an American Top Team affiliate in Oklahoma City, Ducote (3-1) brought it to a decisive close 29 seconds into round two.
Vargas (2-1) withstood a brutal overhand right from the former collegiate wrestler in the first round, scrambled into top position after being taken down and applied her ground-and-pound. Ducote was undeterred. Early in round two, she went off script again and cracked Vargas with another rolling overhand right, the impact folding her where she stood. Ducote then pounced with punches from the top ride position and cinched the choke when the Brazilian muay Thai practitioner left her neck exposed. The tap was immediate.
In other action, Nova Uniao’s Philipe Lins (10-1) took out Guilherme Viana (7-3) with punches 1:13 into the second round of their showdown at 205 pounds; Jessica Middleton (1-0) claimed a unanimous decision from Bruna Ellen (2-1) in a three-round women’s flyweight affair, earning 29-28 marks across the board; Gaston Reyno (6-1) stopped L.J. Hermreck (3-2) with punches 3:57 into round three of their battle at 145 pounds; Johnny Marigo (2-0) submitted Andy Riley (2-2) with an inverted triangle keylock 2:44 into the first round of their bantamweight clash; and Fernando Martinez (15-10-1) eked out a split verdict -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 -- against Marcio Navarro (14-13) in a three-round lightweight encounter at 155 pounds.