Darrion Caldwell is the new Bellator bantamweight champion.
Caldwell entered Friday’s fight with Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 184 in Thackerville, Okla., with only one blemish on his record, and he left that way as well.
Though they are nearly the same age, Dantas had twice the experience of Caldwell, but that didn’t matter. Caldwell used his national champion collegiate wrestling skills to take the fight to Dantas early, slamming him to the canvas with an enormous suplex.
After dominating the first two rounds, Caldwell appeared to slow slightly in the third frame, allowing Dantas back into the fight. The champion’s flame flickered, however, as Caldwell caught his second wind and continued to pressure Dantas for the final two rounds, earning a unanimous nod from the judges and taking home the Bellator bantamweight belt.
Caldwell kneeled in praise of former champion after the fight before taking to the microphone to say, “It seemed like nothing was going my way, but tonight was my night.
“It feels like a dream come true, baby. The Wolf is here. This is my belt and I’m keeping it for a long, long time, baby.”
In the night’s co-main event. Emmanuel Sanchez earned the biggest victory of his career by defeating former Bellator tournament winner and two-time featherweight champion Daniel Straus. It wasn’t an easy victory though.
Straus opened a gash over Sanchez’s right eye early in the fight, but he kept battling back, attacking with submission after submission.
His approach worked, as Sanchez finally sunk a triangle choke early in the third round that Straus couldn’t fight his way out of. The choke in deep, Straus tapped out at the 1:56 mark, while Sanchez took a huge step toward current featherweight champion Patricio Freire.
Former Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran continued his climb back into contention by earning a dominant victory over John Teixeira. After getting the better of Teixeira throughout the fight, the judges gave Curran a unanimous nod with scores of 29-28, 30-27, and 30-26.
Leandro Higo opened the main card on Spike with a unanimous-decision victory over Joe Taimanglo.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) October 7, 2017
Bellator 184: Dantas vs. Caldwell Results
- Darrion Caldwell def. Eduardo Dantas (48-47, 48-47, 50-45)
- Emmanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Straus via submission (triangle choke) at 1:56, R3
- Pat Curran def. John Teixeira via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-26)
- Leandro Higo def. Joe Taimanglo via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Manuel Muro def. Emmanuel Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sean Holden def. Shakir McKillip via TKO (strikes) at 4:39, R2
- Carrington Banks def. Steve Kozola via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-25)
- Chance Rencountre def. Justin Patterson via submission (D’Arce choke) at 2:58, R1
- Teagan Dooley def DeMarcus Simmons via submission (Americana) at 2:12, R2
- Westin Wilson def. L.J. Hermreck via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:55, R2
- Kendall Carnahan def. Daniel Carey via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
(Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA)