Bellator 195 is officially in the record books, and the promotion’s bantamweight belt has been successfully defended and in emphatic fashion. After a bit of a feeling out process, the 135 pound king Darrion Caldwell blasted a furious takedown on Leandro Higo, and quickly realized a mounted guillotine choke to find the first round finish. Joe Warren and Joe Taimanglo went back and forth for the full 15 minutes of their bantamweight co-main event matchup, with Taimanglo picking up two 30-27 scores to win a split decision.
Also on the card, Kristina Williams and Emily Ducote went to war in the flyweight division, exchanging head kicks and right hands throughout, and when it was all said and done, it was Williams that walked away with the split decision. Williams scored a 29-28 on two of the judges’ scorecards, with Ducote receiving a 30-27 from the remaining official. Former KOTC multi-divisional champ Juan Archuleta made his Bellator debut with a dominant decision win over fellow promotional newcomer, William Joplin, even earning a rare 30-23 score from one of the judges.
Darrion Caldwell def. Leandro Higo by submission (Guillotine) at 2:36 of round 1: Bantamweight Title
This was a bit of a starring contest across the opening two minutes of the bout, before Caldwell blasted a beautiful double leg takedown disguised behind a laser like cross. Higo did get back to his feet, but was taken right back down to which Caldwell jumped right on a mounted guillotine to earn the first round submission. Well then!
Joe Taimanglo def. Joe Warren by split decision (30-27 x2, 28-29): Bantamweight
Warren looked to touch gloves to open the bout but Taimanglo rushed him with a flying knee instead. Warren responded with a cartwheel kick to which Taimanglo realized a takedown, but Warren was quick to get up and snag a TD of his own. Once back on the feet, Taimanglo landed a set of right hands that had Warren covering up against the cage in all sorts of trouble. Warren called upon every ounce of his wrestling chops to muscle a takedown and ride out top control for the last minute of the round.
Taimanglo came out in the second round looking to land his big right hand while Warren unsuccessfully searched for a takedown. Warren kept looking to set up a big knee, but his opponent wasn’t having any of it and was able to move his head just out of the way each time. Several clean punches landed for Taimanglo, but in true Joe Warren fashion, the punches seemed to have very little effect.
Just when Taimanglo went to throw a leg kick in the third frame, Warren dropped him with a well timed cross to take top position. Taimanglo was able to scramble back up, and switched it up on Warren to score a takedown of his own. In a somewhat methodical manor, Warren made his way back to his feet, and even managed to find himself on top of Taimanglo’s guard to close out the fight in the dominant position.
Cartwheel kicks are usually comical:
Kristina Williams def. Emily Ducote by spilt decision (29-28 x2, 27-30): (W) Flyweight
Despite the kickboxing experience of Williams, it was Ducote who struck first with a head kick. Williams was able to fend off the early grappling attempts from her opposition, and then was able to force Ducote to sit on the outside, to get picked apart a bit at kicking range. Ducote finally caught a kick and found a takedown with about a minute left in the round, but wasn’t able to mount much offense before time ran out.
Ducote snuck on the inside and landed some hard punches to open up the second frame, but Williams was the one getting the final say in the bulk of the exchanges. A bit groove seemed to be forming for Ducote, first with a head kick and then with a heavy overhand right. Williams blitzed forward in the final 10 seconds of the round, but Ducote backpedalled and landed a clean overhand right that jarred Williams.
The final round looked a lot like the previous one, a kickboxing bout with a moderate tempo. Ducote landed another head kick, but again Williams wore it well, and fired back a kick of her own. Williams appeared relatively unscathed, with Ducote wearing the red on the left side of her face. With just under a minute and a half left in the fight, Ducote realized a takedown, transitioned into full mount, and spun around for an armbar at the last second. Williams was able to hold on until the buzzer sounded
These female athletes put on a rather fun flyweight fight:
Juan Archuleta def. William Joplin by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-24, 30-23): Featherweight
Archuleta wobbled his opponent early with a rear uppercut, and continued to pepper away at his foe as Joplin struggled to get any separation. A couple easy takedowns added an exclamation to what was a rather dominant opening round for Archuleta.
The second stanza began where the first round left off, with Archuleta grinding away with a couple takedowns, although we were blessed with an exchange of... fancy? kicks. Joplin had fits getting his opponent out of his guard, until the referee stepped in and did so, but Archuleta immediately achieved another takedown before the round expired.
These competitors stood and traded for about two minutes into the final frame, before Archuleta scooped up Joplin and dropped him to the ground. Joplin did return to his feet, but wasn’t able to get up off of the cage, and ate quite a few knees to the thighs and body. In the most exciting exchange of the bout, the men stood in the center of the cage and brawled it out for the final five seconds of the fight.
Archuleta was unable to sniff out a finish, despite ample offense: