Freelance: Bellator Doubleheader- 166 & 167 Recap

Bellator delivered with its doubleheader, albeit after a couple of long nights. Eduardo Dantas was at the center of both events as Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell now seems to be back in the 135-pound title picture. But first here’s a quick overall look at the event before their clash.

Bellator 166

  • Darrick Adkins upset Chris Jones via Brabo Choke at 4:09 of Round 2

  • As predicted Gregory Babene put away Emiliano Sordi with a Round 1 Guillotine Choke finish.

  • Chris Honeycutt bested Ben Reiter via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25)

  • Marcos Galvao def. L.C. Davis via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28 , 29-28)

The specifics of the results may have been slightly off but when compared to my initial predictions, I went to and even 2/4 for this part of the card and a respectable 4/6 overall (67 percent) as far as calling the winners.

Who did you have? Share your thoughts!

A.J. McKee vs Ray Wood

Both men entered the cage a near-picture-perfect copy of their opponent with only age (27-21), their records (7-2 and 5-0) and an inch in height separating Wood and McKee respectively. However, over the course of his 5-0 career, the 21-year-old McKee has been in a cage for just 15 minutes and 25 seconds.

His shutout of Wood began with range-testing kickboxing before McKee shoots in, getting caught in guillotine position. Wood uses it to stand and McKee rips off hooks over the top before a jumping knee serves as a counter from Wood. He finds another chance at a guillotine and squeezes until there is just over 2:30 left in the first before he’s in position again. A pair of side kicks and another try at a jumping knee put Wood on his back once more as McKee finds success with a takedown.

Wood is active but McKee’s top position time puts him up 1-0.

The man they call “All Business” seems stuck on the front headlock he’s been utilizing loses the second as McKee continually grounds him while scoring with body shots. According to Compustrike, McKee landed 71.9 of 123.9 total strikes (58 percent) with 57 of 91.9 ground strikes landing (62 percent.) He sets up Wood for a rear-naked finish but can’t get it before they are forced to break thanks to the bell.

Another slam is the big takeaway from Round 3 prior to an easily escaped Omo Plata by McKee. He adds on more knees and elbows as Wood is looking for a way out as he’s curled up against the fence. They stand and McKee drops him again, this time with a belly-to-back-suplex. Wood connected with just 16 of 43 strikes (37.2 percent) over the full 15 minutes.

A.J. McKee def. Ray Wood via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 30-25, 30-27)

Eduardo Dantas vs. Joe Warren II

The lone Bellator title fight of the weekend was a boxing match between Joe Warren and Eduardo as predicted, so much so that every Compustrike ground-based category shows goose eggs across the board. Dantas nearly tripled the landed strikes of Warren (90-32, 41.3-21.5 percent.)

At 8-1 before this rematch, Dantas was also the tied for 1st in “Best Winning Percentage” in Bellator history at .889.

Warren fails on a one-two combo early and is peppered with the same from Dantas with jabs interspersed following a push kick. The Brazilian lands at will, sidestepping a more emotional Warren. Dantas’ handiwork is visible after five minutes and the Coloradoan rushes him to start the second. He catches a kick, moves Dantas back with force and lands a solo left hook.

All of the responding shots from his opponent are combinations and vary from hooks to leg kicks, unpredictable and keeping Warren on his toes. The kicks are coming with such frequency that Warren’s movement is noticeably slowing. The third is off to a stuttering start with an eye poke to Dantas. Warren has him in a vice-like rear body lock but can’t get him to the canvas. Another jab later and then Dantas commits a foul of his own with a low blow. It’s all straights against Warren ahead of the fourth.

Warren begins the next frame with a right but a left hook follows from the defending champion. The American the goes 0 for 2 on cartwheel kicks. A second takedown is denied. “Dudu” wriggles out of any trouble in the clinch but for Warren, the third time’s the charm as Dantas is finally grounded–at least for a moment. The belt holder takes a point deduction in the final round but glides his way to retention with those jabs.

Eduardo Dantas def. Joe Warren via Majority Decision (47-47, 49-44, 48-46)

Bellator 167

​*Brandon Phillips (6-2) and Stephen Banaszak (5-5) appeared to have been scratched from the card.

  • Jonathan Gary topped Aaron Roberson with a unanimous nod on the scorecards (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Justin Patterson had nearly the same result against Codale Ford (29-27, 29-28, 29,28)

  • Jarod Trice, the last of Bellator’s “Fab Five” NCAA wrestling signees to debut did so with a “W” as the judges rendered a majority decision in his favor (28-28, 30-25, 30-26) over Tommie Britton.

  • In a shocking turn of events, a simple jab that looked a bit more like a shove from Chidi Njokuani or a slip by previously 7-0 Andre Fialho followed by minor ground and pound put Fialho to sleep at just 21 seconds.

*One of the dark preliminary bouts contained one of the fastest KOs in Bellator history at just 15 seconds after just the first punch of Fernando Gonzalez’s pro career against Chris Hicks.

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) as did John Teixeira when matched up against Justin Lawrence (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Correct Winner Predictions: 4/6 (5/7 overall for 71 percent)

Darrion Caldwell vs. Joe Taimanglo II

Dantas might have gotten his next challenger (in narrow fashion) just a day after his defense as now 10-1 Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell–dead even at 50 percent finishes to decisions– led the man behind his single blemish through all three rounds of the marquee bout of Bellator 167.

Taimanglo got the better percentage on the ground when it came to striking (88.5 percent, 23/26) but Caldwell led that total by a landslide (54/62.9, 85.7 percent.) but the action on the canvas was in favor of Taimanglo, who looked to end his night within roughly 15 seconds coming in for a takedown and surrendering his neck.

The native of Guam released the head as Caldwell spends most of the first minute on top in side control. Elbows from that angle, “fighting in a phone booth” carry the fight through the next four minutes. It’s not exciting but easy to call as “The Wolf” led for about 4:45. He landed 91 percent of his ground strikes in the frame.

Dantas can’t be worried as he also starts the second round in guillotine choke trouble, showing his weaknesses in jiu-jitsu despite being a national champion in wrestling. Referee ” Mike Beltran. encourages both men to look for the finish as Taimanglo sends up elbows from the bottom and is cut in response.

“The Juggernaut” looks for an armbar but can’t get full extension and is further stifled. He answers with a combo front choke, kimura, and Peruvian neck-tie combination when Caldwell dives in. Caldwell is up only based on the amount of time Taimanglo is on his back–unfortunately, most of ten minutes.

Caldwell looks to put him in a front choke on the way up from guard position before the lock up again. Taimanglo has his back early and both hooks in for a rear-naked but Caldwell turns out of trouble. He wrestles and short-range punches his way to the win (54/66.9 landed, 80.6 percent) but with just 11 power strikes, this is a victory that leaves him being best described as “vulnerable.”

Darrion Caldwell def. Joe Taimanglo via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)