29-Year-Old Bellator Bantamweight 10-1-0
October 6, 2017 Darrion Caldwell News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Caldwell defeated Eduardo Dantas via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45) at Bellator 184 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla.
Normally when someone says that a fighter controls a bout with wrestling it paints the picture of someone scoring takedowns and working from the top. That was not the case in this fight. While Caldwell controlled this fight with his wrestling, he spent very little time on top. In the first two rounds, he seemed content to take a rear-waist lock on the feet. He threw Dantas with a German suplex, but he never ended up on top. Not only did holding Dantas in position put Caldwell ahead on the scorecards, but it also made Dantas overthink the wrestling. This allowed the former wrestler to score with a variety of jumping and looping attacks that under normal circumstances would never land. In the third and fourth rounds, Dantas was able to counter some takedowns and end up on top. His best threat came in the third. He transitioned to the back and locked on the body triangle. Caldwell remained calm in the position and spun into the guard position. From the top, he landed a solid elbow that cut Dantas. The Brazilian needed to come out hard in the last round, but he instead allowed Caldwell to continue to lead. This was a masterful performance from Caldwell. His striking is by no means a finished product, but his overall MMA aptitude has now carried him to a victory over a top-ten bantamweight and the Bellator bantamweight championship.
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Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell is finally getting his chance to take the belt from Bellator's bantamweight champion. Back in April, he was schedule for his shot but had to withdraw due to injury just a month before the bout was to take place. "The Wolf" is 10-1 with his only loss suffered at the hands of Joe Taimanglo -- a loss that he avenged five months later. Coming off such a victory and fully healed, Caldwell will give Dantas a run for the title.
Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell avenged his only career loss with a unanimous-decision victory over Joe Taimanglo in December, right around the same time Dantas made his second title defense against Joe Warren. Caldwell escaped various submission attempts in his most recent victory -- a skill he'll again have to put to the test against Dantas, owner of six career finishes via submission.
Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell seemed determined to find a way to lose to Taimanglo once again, as his dominating top game was periodically interrupted by his opponent’s submission attempts. While there is no doubt that Caldwell won the fight, he was put in risky situations throughout, including a would-be Peruvian necktie that the 28-year-old escaped while digging his toes into the cage. Caldwell would appear to have a fight with bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas in his future, but he may need to cover some holes prior to the contest, as six of Dantas’ 19 professional wins have come via submission.
Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell was regarded as one of Bellator's top bantamweights after winning his first nine professional fights, but this upset will surely put a damper on his quest for a belt. "The Wolf" likely came out on top in the first two rounds, but an attempted double-leg takedown in the opening moments of the third round proved costly. Taimanglo immediately wrapped him up in a guillotine and didn't let go, eventually forcing Caldwell to tap. Despite the loss, "The Wolf" remains in the prime of his MMA career, and continues to be a name worth paying attention to in Bellator's bantamweight division.
Fantasy AnalysisFresh off a seven-fight extension with the promotion, Caldwell will jump right into a main event, title eliminator fight. "The Wolf" will likely be a big favorite in this one, as the 28-year-old is 9-0 in his professional career, and his last two Bellator bouts were finished in the first round. If Caldwell takes care of business here, his next fight should be for a belt.
Fantasy AnalysisAfter defeating Joe Warren by first-round submission on March 4, Caldwell had just one fight remaining on his Bellator contract before getting the option to elect free agency. Rather than test the UFC waters and potentially fight some of the world's elite bantamweights, Warren will remain with Bellator, where he is expected to see the next title shot. A bantamweight title bout between champion Marcos Galvao and challenger Eduardo Dantas is scheduled for June 17, and Warren will likely face the winner of that matchup. The 28-year-old has won all six of his Bellator fights to date, and only two of those made it out of the first round. He'll be a feared opponent regardless of which promotion he fights for.
Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell was in complete control Friday night, obtaining an early takedown before taking Bunch's back and earning the tap. While expected, a win over the former Olympic qualifier is still a nice coup for Caldwell, who could ascend Bellator's featherweight ranks in short order.
Fantasy AnalysisCaldwell possesses a more diverse skill-set than his opponent; "The Wolf" boasts two submission victories under the Bellator banner, whereas Bunch hasn't shown considerable development in his transition from freestyle wrestling to mixed martial arts. Bunch has succumbed to strikes in the past -- look for Caldwell to enforce a ground-and-pound attack in pursuit of his eighth straight victory.