Bellator MMA returns to Kansas with a pivotal matchup between undefeated phenom, Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell (9-0) and Joe Taimanglo (22-6-1) to determine the No. 1 contender for the Bantamweight Title in the main event of Bellator 159: Caldwell vs. Taimanglo on July 22 inside Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
In the co-main event of the evening, local hometown hero Dave “Caveman” Rickels (17-4) will meet Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard (32-16-2) in a lightweight match-up that will surely provide fireworks. Additional contests will be announced shortly.
At 28 years old, “The Wolf” may very well be the brightest young star in Bellator MMA’s deep bantamweight division. The New Jersey native has begun his career with nine consecutive victories, including five blistering first round finishes. Caldwell will be tasked with the headlining role for the second consecutive time after an impressive first outing at Bellator 151: Warren vs. Caldwell in which he had his way with former two-division Bellator champion Joe Warren, winning via rear-naked choke submission. The former NC State standout wrestled to a National Championship and two All-American accolades before joining the Bellator MMA fray in 2014. The undefeated Caldwell is reinvigorated after recently re-signing a seven-fight contract with the Scott Coker-led promotion.
A native of Yona, Guam, Taimanglo has emerged as one of the most prolific bantamweight fighters in MMA. Having gone 13-2 over his last 15 bouts dating back to 2009, it’s difficult to find a fighter more consistent than “The Juggernaut.” Since signing with Bellator in 2013, Taimanglo has accumulated a 5-2 record including a current string of three consecutive victories. Standing at 5’4,” Taimanglo will once again be squaring off against a much taller opponent in the 5’10’’ Caldwell. Click here to see exclusive footage of Taimanglo’s unanimous decision win over Sirwan Kakai at “Bellator 151.”
As is usually the case when Bellator rolls through Kansas, Rickels will be the center of attention when he fights Guillard on July 22. “The Caveman” delivered the proverbial “Fight of the Night” back in February with a first-round knockout of Bobby Cooper during the co-main event of Bellator 150: Kongo vs. Spartan. A native of Derby, Kansas, Rickels will be making his 17th appearance under the Bellator MMA banner, a promotion with which he has accrued 11 victories over the course of a six-year period. The 27-year-old recently re-signed with the Scott Coker-led promotion, ensuring his exciting fighting style will be seen exclusively in the Bellator cage for years to come.
With 52 career fights under his belt, 33-year-old Melvin Guillard will have a lot to prove when he takes on “The Caveman.” Guillard seems to have made a full recovery from his brutally broken hand that occurred during his Bellator MMA debut last year. Throughout his MMA tenure, “The Young Assassin” has displayed a knack for ending fights early, with 23 of his 32 professional victories coming before reaching the judges’ scorecards. On July 22 the New Orleans native will have an opportunity to take down another experienced lightweight in Rickels and reassert himself as a top 155-pounder.
Updated “Bellator 159: Caldwell vs. Taimanglo” Card:
Bellator MMA Bantamweight Main Event: Darrion Caldwell (9-0) vs. Joe Taimanglo (22-6-1)
Bellator MMA Lightweight Co-Main Event: Dave Rickels (17-4, 1 NC) vs. Melvin Guillard (32-16-2, 2 NC)
Bellator MMA Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Manny Meraz (8-2) vs. Trey Ogden (4-1)
Bellator MMA Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Chris Harris (6-0) vs. Matt Foster (6-8)