Joe Taimanglo Plans to Secure His Place as 135-Pound Contender at Bellator 159

Even though he was able to pick up a unanimous decision win over Sirwan Kakai at Bellator 151 in March, bantamweight veteran Joe “Juggernaut” Taimanglo took a lesson from the fight as almost if it were a loss.

At one point, Taimanglo believes he was close to finishing Kakai, only to back off, and end up having to go all three rounds to get the win. It’s that missed opportunity that Taimanglo doesn’t want to let slip away in the future.

“I feel like I had a real, great, tight hold on my anaconda choke on him, but I think he was holding on for dear life, and if I would have held on for a couple more seconds, he would went out, but I didn’t want to play that gamble game, so I let it go,” Taimanglo told MMAWeekly.com. “I was disappointed he ended up coming back and getting a good wind of energy.

“It was good to show I could go all three rounds with a guy like Sirwan, so it ended up being a good thing. Maybe if I finished him early, I’m not going to keep trying to work hard to finish fights anymore; I’m going to try to wind up the time if that didn’t happen.”

The win over Kakai was Taimanglo’s third in a row, coming off of back-to-back losses. As for what got him back on track, Taimanglo believes it was work on his overall movement, rather than a specific technique that has helped him get to where he is.

“We found some potential within my movement that I didn’t know,” he said. “I didn’t really work on it until earlier this year. These new tricks and new skills that I’ve acquired, I’m very excited to put them to use.”

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Taimanglo (22-6-1) will look for his fourth straight win when he takes on undefeated prospect Darrion Caldwell (8-0) in a 135-pound main event at Bellator 159 in Mulvane, Kansas, on July 22.

“His talent is really up there,” said Taimanglo of Caldwell. “For them to give me him this early, I’m very happy, so I can take whatever he has going on for him and take it all away from him. I worked too hard. I worked diligently for this fight.

“It’s just another step for me to show the world that I’m going to be the best 135er. People don’t know about me. A lot of people think I’m just a little island boy, but I’ve sacrificed a lot and have dedicated myself to this sport for 12-plus years, and I’m ready to take this on.”

While he believes a win over Caldwell will propel him to a bantamweight title shot sooner than later, Taimanglo is focused on July 22 and the fight that’s ahead of him.

“I think about just one fight at a time,” Taimanglo said. “I do want to be the champion right away, but it’s a process going towards something big like that. I’m been securing my place as a competitor and earning my shot at every opponent that Bellator has thrown at me.

“I’m ready to put in the time and work to put out those guys. With this opportunity to go up against Darrion, I think my time is now and I’m going to show the world that I am going to be that champion.”

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