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Bellator 184: Dantas vs. Caldwell fight card preview

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Here’s the rundown for Friday’s Bellator 184 card, as Eduardo Dantas squares off with Darrion Caldwell for the bantamweight belt.

Bellator 184 is set to take place this Friday night from the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma as Eduardo Dantas looks to defend his bantamweight title against surging talent Darrion Caldwell. The co-main event of the evening will see Bellator’s former featherweight king Daniel Straus lock horns with rising contender Emmanuel Sanchez. Bellator’s former featherweight champ Pat Curran will be making his return to action, following an almost 1.5 year layoff, as he tussles with with the 21-2-2 John Teixeira. Friday’s Bellator 184: Dantas vs. Caldwell main card will air live on Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. ET, with the prelims streaming online at 7:00 P.M. ET.

Main Card: Spike TV 9:00 P.M. ET

Eduardo Dantas (20-4 MMA; 10-1 Bellator) vs. Darrion Caldwell (10-1 MMA; 7-1 Bellator): Bantamweight Title

Since surrendering his bantamweight belt to Joe Warren at Bellator 128 back in October of 2014, Eduardo Dantas has been flawless inside of the Bellator cage, picking up four straight wins. Among those victories, Dantas won back his bantamweight belt by unanimously dominating Marcos Galvao at Bellator 156, and then avenged his loss to Warren with a majority decision at Bellator 166. In his last outing, Dantas picked up a split decision win over Leandro Higo in a 3 round fight, after Higo failed to make the mandated weight requirements.

There is no reason to believe that Dantas’ Bellator 184 opponent, Darrion Caldwell, will have any weight making issues, as the 2009 NCAA national wrestling champion has been making weight for most of his life. Which brings us to our next point, Caldwell’s wrestling. Dantas had fits with Warren in their first meeting, as Warren was able to routinely ground Dantas, even though Dantas continued to scramble to his feet. Sure, Dantas went on to best Warren in their second encounter, but how much of that was Dantas getting better, and how much of that was Warren getting worse? It will be no secret as to what Caldwell is looking to do in this fight; wrestle, wrestle, and wrestle, but can Dantas stop it?

Caldwell is still somewhat wet behind the ears, which could be partially why he had to fight Joe Taimanglo twice, and he could still have a few of those noobie wrinkles to iron out. His knack for shooting in from a bit far away is what got him submitted in his first match Taimanglo, and the same sort of neck exposing shots were also showing up in their second fight, except Caldwell was able to escape the danger. Dantas’ Bellator record is identical to Caldwell’s overall record of 10-1, but beyond experience, Caldwell will be facing the most polished striker that he has seen to date, by far. How well will Caldwell adjust to the learning curve on the feet, and how well will his cardio fare come the championship rounds? And still? And new?

Daniel Straus (24-7 MMA; 11-4 Bellator) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (15-3 MMA; 7-2 Bellator): Featherweight

Daniel Straus was on top of the world at Bellator 145, as he finally bested Patricio Freire, and captured Bellator’s featherweight crown for the second time in his career. Unfortunately, Straus severely fractured his hand in process and was forced to sit out for almost a year and a half before returning to action. His return bout was the 4th installment of the Patricio Pitbull vs. Daniel Straus saga, in which he was submitted :37 into the second round, forcing Straus to relinquish his 145-pound title once again. If he has any hopes of getting back on track, Straus will have to show up to Bellator 184 with three full rounds in him, as he will be facing a tireless fighter in Emmanuel Sanchez.

Aside from his Bellator debut, Emmanuel Sanchez has earned a decision victory in each of his other six promotional wins. Sanchez’ endless gas tank, paired with a voluminous striking assault, has proven to be a quintessential round winning style. Having already fallen short to former champ Pat Curran and former title challenger Daniel Weichel, has Sanchez progressed to a point where he can best the cream of the proverbial crop? If the answer to that question is yes, then Sanchez will find himself in a championship fight sometime in the near future, and who wouldn’t want to see Sanchez flaunt his cardio over the course of five rounds?

Straus doesn’t lose by decision, and Sanchez only wins by decision, so there lies the rub. There isn’t any real consistency to how Straus wins his fights, but for what it’s worth, Sanchez has never been finished, let alone seriously hurt. Can you already smell that split decision?

Pat Curran (22-7 MMA; 12-4 Bellator) vs. John Teixeira (21-2-2 MMA; 4-1 Bellator): Featherweight

Pat Curran was the king of Bellator’s featherweight division for a solid two years, until dropping his title to Daniel Straus at Bellator 106 in November of 2013. That sent him down a road of inconsistency, riddled with tough losses and injuries. Curran went on to reclaim his 145-pound title, just to lose it once again in his very next match to Patricio Pitbull. After a close split decision loss to Daniel Weichel, Curran seemed to be gaining some traction with back to back wins over Emmanuel Sanchez and Georgi Karakhanyan, but the injury bug reared his ugly head, sidelining Curran since May of 2016. Almost 1.5 years later, Curran is stepping back into the Bellator cage to take on tough Brazilian John Teixeira, and his rather pretty record. Does Curran still have it in him?

John Teixeira has been quietly building his attractive 21-2-2 record, going 4-1 inside of the Bellator promotion. “Macapa” is known for his hard-hitting combination punching, and his classic Nova Uniao leg kicks. Not only can he dish it out, but Teixeira can also take it, as the tough Brazilian has never been knocked out in a professional fight. Teixeira dropped a razor-thin split decision to Daniel Weichel in his last showing, and a lot of people think he should have won, which showed us that Teixeira is for real, despite a somewhat inflated record. Although he does have a shiny 21-2-2 record, he still lacks a big name win on his resume, so defeating a former world champion like Curran would surely rectify that issue, and legitimize Teixeira’s position as an elite featherweight.

Leandro Higo (17-3 MMA; 0-1 Bellator) vs. Joe Taimanglo (23-7-1 MMA; 6-3 Bellator): Bantamweight

Leandro Higo fell short in his high stakes debut at Bellator 177 as he dropped a split decision to the 135 pound champ, Eduardo Dantas. After missing weight, Higo’s debut was more high profile than it was high stakes, as the belt was not on the line, and was comprised of three rounds instead of five. Higo put on a spirited performance against Dantas, showing off some classic Pitbull brothers counter punching and thudding leg kicks. Higo definitely held his own on the feet, but let’s see how well he fares against someone that might be looking to take him down.

Joe Taimanglo shocked the world as a major underdog when he submitted Darion Caldwell in the third round of their first encounter at Bellator 159. Due to Taimanglo missing weight before the fight, Caldwell was granted a shot at redemption, and went on to grapple his way to a unanimous decision victory at Bellator 167, snapping Taimanglo’s 4-fight winning streak. Taimanglo has proven that he can pack a wallop, but also has shown that he possesses some slick submission skills up his sleeve, but will it be enough to best the crisp striking based style of Higo?


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