Joe Taimanglo was upwards of a nine-to-one underdog heading into his Bellator 159 main event fight against Darrion Caldwell last month. Very few people gave the Yona, Guam native a chance, but he defied the odds once again by tapping out the then-undefeated prospect in the third round.
Taimanglo found little success in the first two rounds, however. Caldwell was able to score a few takedowns and looked good. He limited Taimanglo's offense, but "Baby" says he was never in danger or hurt throughout the first 10 minutes. That said, Taimanglo knew that he was down on the scorecards going into the final five minutes, and that he had to act fast if he wanted to walk away with the win.
"Well, I did feel like I was underneath on the scorecards," Taimanglo told BloodyElbow.com. "All he did was just get the takedown and score a few shots on the feet. But nothing really effective to put me away. That's how he's fought a lot of his fights. So I was gonna make that fight be just like each and every one of his fights. He's a point scorer. If the fighter is just as game as me, he takes them to decisions, and he'll win it off winning every round just by a little. I learned from that kind of mistake from his previous opponents, and I wasn't going to make that mistake. Yeah, he may have won 10 minutes of the fight, but it just took nine seconds for me to take away all that."
Heading into the third and final round, Taimanglo expected Caldwell to attempt another takedown and planned to capitalize on any openings he was given.
"[The message from my corner between the second and the third round was] that he was gonna shoot again," he said. "My cornermen -- my head coach, Vince Salvador, he called it out. He was like, 'Hey man, this guy's just gonna try and shoot again and score that stupid takedown just to try to win the fight.'
"Surprisingly, [Caldwell] actually helped me. He's the crazy one to shoot from downtown. It worked out in my favor. I'm just happy where the fight ended. I probably would've pushed the pace a little bit more and tried to knock him out and do something crazy. But it finished the way it did, and I'm very happy and blessed right now."
Taimanglo believes Caldwell was slightly tired going into the final round, which he did not expect to see.
"What I saw that was so surprising to me, going into the third round and getting off the stool, Darrion sat down just a little longer than I did, and he looked like he was huffing and puffing a little bit more," he said. "So I saw that as an energy boost for me, saying, 'Oh man, this guy's tired. Alright, I did my job. Let's finish it now.'"
To say Taimanglo was having fun in the cage against Caldwell appears to be an understatement.
"I was having the time of my life," he said. "I was talking a lot of trash to Darrion while I was the ground, telling him, 'Hey man, you better not let me up or you're gonna get it!' Or 'Hey man, good job taking me down because I'm about to get up right now!' And he goes, 'Oh yeah?'"
"It was a good time. At one point he even pulled my hair, and I said, 'Hey! Stop pulling my hair!' And he goes like, 'Sorry, Joe!' And I said, 'It's all good, let's go fight.' It was a great time in there," he said. "We went in there as professionals and did what we can. My style of fighting, I like to joke around, I like to smile. I took that into my game plan going in, and it worked out for me."
The 32-year-old, who will be Bellator MMA bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas' next opponent, believes that talking to his opponents inside the cage throws them off, giving him an advantage.
"Yeah. It's sort of related to reverse psychology," he said. "They punch you really good, and you just tell them, 'That didn't hurt, man.' And they're just like, 'Ohh.' It throws them off their game plan. They punch even harder, and it makes them make just a little mistake, and you get to capitalize sometimes off things like that. So yeah, I like to talk smack, smile, and just show up.
"So I guess that's the three answers to my fight game. Talk smack, smile, and show up."