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Darrion Caldwell: ‘Joe Taimanglo Should Have Never Even Sniffed my Jockstrap’

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Darrion Caldwell Bellator

Darrion Caldwell (9-1) will take on Joe Taimanglo (23-6) in a rematch of what bookmakers said was the fourth-biggest upset in MMA history. Taimanglo handed Caldwell his first career defeat back at Bellator 159 in July with a third-round submission victory after losing the first two rounds. Unfortunately, any title aspirations Taimanglo may have harboured were severely hamstrung due to him missing weight in that first contest. The two will run it back in an immediate rematch in the main event of Bellator 167.

“He wasn’t surprising at all,” says Caldwell, “It was just a lapse, Joe got lucky and took advantage of an opportunity. If you ask me it’s probably the biggest upset in MMA history. A fighter like that should never beat me.

“I asked for the rematch,” he adds, “I didn’t think there was a better fight than the Joe Taimanglo fight. I’ve made a change with my training. You’ll see the difference come December 3rd.”

There are always suspicions when a promoter books an immediate rematch that the initial result was not the desired one. Caldwell is good with the media, relatively young, has an incredible amateur wrestling pedigree and was undefeated coming off a dominant first-round finish over Joe Warren entering the bout in July. Cynics may think Bellator see more upside in Caldwell.

“I think they want the best guy to be the champion, if that means us fighting a rematch then that is what it is,” Caldwell says, “I don’t think Joe should have ever even sniffed my jockstrap. I’ve made adjustments and I’ll go out there and show them off.

The most brilliant thing anyone who’s competed has ever said is that ‘you lose, you learn,’” he added.

Funnily enough, Joe Warren, who was submitted by Caldwell in a one-sided performance only in March, will fight Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator bantamweight title at Bellator 166, which takes place the night before 167. If he’s successful against Taimanglo, Caldwell will surely be keeping a close eye on that fight.

“Yeah it stings because I know I’m better than my last fight,” says Caldwell, “I should be the champ by now but this makes sense because I did lose. I can’t fight for a title coming off a loss, and he [Taimanglo] can’t fight for a title after missing weight.

“I really don’t care who I fight,” he adds, “Whenever you beat someone, you think you can beat them again so that’s something that would be in my mind if I fight Joe. I beat him before so I can beat him again. Whoever I’m lined up against, I feel very confident and just ready to go.”

Caldwell also expressed his satisfaction at the steps Bellator were taking in 2016, specifically in the recruitment of the ‘Fab Five;’ Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth, Tyrell Fortune, Jarod Trice and Joey Davis. He also stated his interest in an undercard spot of the upcoming Emelianenko/Mitrione event, ideally as a co-main event for the bantamweight title.

“I definitely want to fight on that card,” says Caldwell, “You always watched the Emperor. If you’re a fighter you have a lot of respect for the Emperor. Matt Mitrione will put on a show too, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Fedor come back into that cage. I think that would be a great opportunity. The eyes are going to be focused on that fight because we want to see Fedor’s comeback and those eyes tuning in, they’ll get to see what the future has in store.

“I think Bellator are doing a phenomenal job with the way they’re going compared to 5 years ago,” he says, “These guys are the best junior guys in the world and I think they’re gonna do a phenomenal job in the next 5 years for Bellator. I’m excited to see Jarrod Trice, he’s fighting on December 3rd. I know he can scrap, he’s a guy who really wants to be the best and he’s really putting the time in. He’s a young guy, full of hope and I’m really excited to watch his development in the sport. I think Bellator, with that whole ‘Fab-Five’ crew, have really done a great job. I think that this is the greatest organisation in the world. I think they’ve been very strategic with what they’ve been doing since Scott Coker took over.”

Caldwell had a straightforward, simple prediction for how his bout with Taimanglo is going to look this time round.

“It’s gonna look like Joe’s drank a fifth of vodka by himself,” he says, “I think it’s gonna look like this guy is intoxicated.”

Catch Bellator 167: Caldwell vs. Taimanglo 2 on Saturday, December 3rd.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Refereeing’s Loss is Bellator’s Gain

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When former Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith left the organization last week, not many expected MMA veteran referee, John McCarthy, to be his replacement. There is little doubt that McCarthy will make an excellent color analyst. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the sport is losing one of the best and most experienced referees.

McCarthy has been part of the fabric of MMA and the UFC in particular, since 1993. He was hugely influential in creating and enforcing the rules of the cage that have changed MMA into the respected sport it is today. Back in early to mid-nineties, the ‘sport’ was fairly labeled by some critics as ‘human cockfighting’. Without McCarthy as an instrumental player in changing regulations and rules, who knows where the MMA would be today.

What we have grown to appreciate most about McCarthy over the past two decades is how simple he makes this tough job look, which can be credited to years of experience and dedication. To the layman, it would appear that it’s a simple as stopping the fight when a fighter is knocked out or submitted. MMA fans know there’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s difficult to remember a moment in recent memory where McCarthy has let a fight go too long, or even stopped a fight too soon. His timing is almost always perfect. His composure and rationale in the cage are unmatched. When McCarthy is the third man in the Octagon we know the fighters are in safe hands.

It’s worth reiterating how important McCarthy is in maintaining the standard of referring and judging in the sport. The sport of MMA is still very young and is growing rapidly and so are the rules. The former LAPD police officer created his own training school known as C.O.M.M.A.N.D. The course teaches the next generation of MMA referees and judges, and there is no better person to be educated by. Referees must complete this or a similar course run by Herb Dean to be licensed as an official.

Former fighter Frank Trigg, who has pursued refereeing since his career wound down, has taken the course. He recently appeared on The MMA Hour to explain just how tough C.O.M.M.A.N.D is. It took Trigg three attempts to pass, emphasizing just how difficult a career path officiating is.

While ‘Big John’ as he is more affectionately known hasn’t completely left refereeing, he will likely no longer be seen in the cage at the biggest shows. The pool of referees trusted with the big title fights is rather small. Normally McCarthy and Herb Dean are tasked with the important title fights.

It’s not all bad that McCarthy is stepping aside for the time being. The likes of Mark Smith, Jason Herzog, and Chris Tognoni have all shown they are capable officials. There is now a great opportunity for them to move into the main event slots. There are also the likes of Yves Lavigne, Mike Beltran and Marc Goddard who can be trusted to referee the big fights.

While it is surprising, it’s understandable that McCarthy is looking for new career ventures. It is no secret that MMA referees are poorly paid relative to other sporting officials. Las Vegas often discloses referee pay when assignments are announced. The pay tends to range between $1000 and $2000 for the night. Trigg explained on The MMA hour that there is no money in becoming a referee and that most also have full-time jobs. McCarthy’s passion for the sport of MMA has been the biggest incentive for refereeing. It is totally understandable that he would take a bigger payday and put all his knowledge of the sport to good use in the commentary booth.

McCarthy will almost certainly be as dedicated to his new job as he was with his refereeing duties. He can also offer a fascinating insight into the officiating of a fight that nobody else can offer. If there wasn’t already an excuse to watch Bellator 192 on January 20th, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima, then there most definitely is now.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192

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Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.

The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.

This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.

Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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