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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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Saad Awad talks Zach Freeman, kickboxing, 165 lb division and more ahead of Bellator 186

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Long-time Bellator veteran Saad Awad takes on Zach “the Pico slayer” Freeman at Bellator 186. Awad is currently coming off of a unanimous decision win over Ryan Quinn back at Bellator 178. Awad looks to beat top prospect Freeman in an attempt to go on a two-fight winning streak, in a stacked lightweight division.

Speaking with MMA Latest, Awad let it known he believes Freeman has the better ground game. “I think he’s a solid fighter, pretty durable, obviously better on the ground, so I know I just have to be sharp, and be precise with my striking, and get ready for a good ground game.”

Freeman made his name by beating Bellator’s hyped prospect Aaron Pico back in June, Awad had the chance to give his thoughts on the fight. “I thought it was good, I thought it was a fast win, but he didn’t shy away from it, he didn’t let Pico come in and impose his will, he struck back when he needed to, and dropped him, and got a nice submission.”

With every win helping fighters get closer to a title shot, it’s unclear whether or not Awad is close to a title shot, but he hasn’t given up hope. “I’ve been with Bellator since 2012, I think, or 2013 and I haven’t got a title fight yet so I don’t know man. To be honest, it’s on Bellator and on me to go out there and preform. So I need to win as many fights as I can, so I can go out there and win it.”

For a long time, Awad has been known mostly as the man who knocked out former Bellator champion Will Brooks. Awad believes he’s moved past that fight and more importantly, has moved on from that title. “Definitely at the time I was that guy and I feel like Zach Freeman is that guy for Pico because Pico was pumped up, obviously more than normal. I had that title for a while, but Will Brooks did go off and win a title right after he lost to me, so he had his name buzzing for a while. I definitely think I’ve moved on from that and I’ve beaten some really good guys after that, and I’ve had some really good wars since that fight. I’ll never let one fight dictate who I am and I’m glad I’ve moved past that”

Awad comes into the fight back in the win column and up against an up and coming opponent, Awad details the amount of pressure he’s on. “You know what I always put pressure on myself. Whether I’m winning or losing, because at the end of the day you want to win, whether you’re coming off of a loss or you’re coming off a win. If you lose, you lose, and that’s it, you lost, so there’s always expectation with me and yeah if this time I lose, I could possibly get cut if I lose this one, because I just won my last one and I’m not trying to have a win one, lose, win one, lose one. So there’s still that pressure to perform, especially being that Zach has only one fight in Bellator and I’m probably ten fights in. So I do have some pressure behind me.”

Awad was unable to watch the Henderson-Pitbull fight, lucky, but he did have a theory on why it went the way it did. “You know what I didn’t even watch it, normally I watch all the lightweights but I missed that fight. I read it online, people were complaining saying they both weren’t doing as much, but I understand why Henderson probably wasn’t doing as much, because Patricky hits pretty hard and usually when someone hits pretty hard, you don’t want to go out there with that person and mix it up, because you don’t want to get knocked out. I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened, but I know it could’ve happened. So I take nothing from them because they’re both really good fighters and he won a split decsion so it was obviously close enough for them to go to a split decision.”

Awad also spoke about whether he preferred lightweight or welterweight, and why Bellator should consider a 165-pound weight class. “Honestly man I hate cutting weight. I hate cutting weight but I feel like I’m one of those guys that like if there’s a 165-pound weight class, that would fit me the best. I’m a huge lightweight but I’m a small welterweight, not small but I don’t cut that much weight like my normal walk around weight is probably 165 so you know I’m not the biggest welterweight so I prefer 165 if they added that weight class. If Bellator gets that weight I’d probably be one of the first in line to fight for it.”

With Bellator’s recent splurge on free agents and former UFC fighter’s, Awad believes it’s only helped make Bellator stronger. “I think its cool. No matter where they come from at the end of the day we’re fighters and whether we get cut or we opt to get out of our contracts, it’s because we want to make money, we want to get paid as much as we can, and sometimes we feel like we’re not respected and, were not getting paid what we think we’re worth. So sometimes you have to get out of a contract whether it’s with the UFC, ONE FC or Titan wherever the hell they’re at, or Bellator even. They leave because they want to get paid more. Even if they lost a couple fights, guys can have bad nights and they lose a couple and get cut. It doesn’t mean the guys suck. They could have had something going on or they just have bad match-ups and those guys could be still just as good and dangerous as they were when they first started. So I think nothing of them, I don’t look down on any of the fighters that come here, whether they were cut or opted to get out. At the end of the day, they’re still fighters so there’s respect for their abilities.”

Awad has also been training with Duane Ludwig ahead of this fight. “You know what Duane used to train with my coaches back in the day, I think back in ‘99, 2000 and so they have a really good relationship. He was out in Colorado and we had some teammates that would train with him. Now he’s back out here in Cali, so now we have some teammates going out and mixing it up with them. I’ve only met him once but the dude brings a different aspect to training and for me training with them I would definitely like to train with him more because, like I said, it opened up a whole new book in the chapter of training. I’ll definitely look forward to learning his style of standup because I think it would be good. I’m a big fan of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and boxing, and that’s how I’m going to end being the best I can possibly be, so I think that can add a lot to my arsenal.”

Speaking of kickboxing, Awad has also shown interest in participating on Bellator’s kickboxing cards. “You know what I did ask them, it kind of got shunned away because they’re keeping me busy with MMA. If they cant keep me busy next year I’ll definitely ask them to put me on one of those cards.”

Saad Awad takes on Zach Freeman on November 3rd, at Bellator 186. MMA Latest would like to thank Saad for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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