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Matches to Make After Bellator 184



Darrion
Caldwell
found his way to Bellator
MMA
’s pantheon of champions, just as many predicted he would
when he joined the organization as an undefeated prospect in March
2014.

“The Wolf” completed his rise to the top of the 135-pound weight
class, as he captured the bantamweight crown with a five-round
unanimous decision over Eduardo
Dantas
in the
Bellator 184
main event on Friday at the Winstar World Casino
in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Scores were 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45, the
win putting even more distance between Caldwell and his surprising
submission defeat to Joe
Taimanglo
a little more than a year ago.

Dantas was never afforded the breathing room he needed. Caldwell
bottled up the Brazilian against the cage, running through various
clinches that chewed up clock, minimized risk and kept momentum in
his corner. He delivered a crowd-pleasing suplex in the first
round, dropped Dantas to a knee with a standing elbow strike in the
second and drew blood with ground-and-pound in the fourth. It was
more than enough to overshadow the
Nova Uniao
standout’s work.

“I have been waiting for this moment for my whole life,” Caldwell
said. “Darrion Caldwell is the Bellator bantamweight champion; that
has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I want to be an active champion.
I want to bring some prestige to this belt. You’ll be hearing from
me very soon.”

In the aftermath of Bellator 184, here are four matches that ought
to be made:

Darrion
Caldwell
vs. Leandro
Higo
:
Caldwell now lords over a division in
transition. He avenged his loss to Taimanglo, throttled Joe Warren
and dethroned Dantas; and while Michael
McDonald
figures to give the weight class a much-needed jolt,
the Ultimate Fighting Championship transplant has not yet made his
Bellator debut. That leaves Higo as the most logical choice for
Caldwell’s first title defense. The Pitbull Brothers representative
has won nine of his past 10 bouts, with his lone loss in that
stretch coming in a short-notice assignment against Dantas at
Bellator 177. Higo has championship pedigree on his side, too,
having captured titles in the Legacy Fighting Alliance and
Resurrection Fighting Alliance promotions.

Emmanuel
Sanchez
vs. Patricio
Freire
Daniel
Weichel
winner:
It was the virtuoso Sanchez
performance for which everyone had been waiting. The Roufusport
star submitted two-time featherweight champion Daniel
Straus
with a third-round triangle choke in the co-main event
at 145 pounds. Sanchez, 27, has rounded into form, making the
transition from prospect to contender on the strength of a
three-fight winning streak that has seen him defeat Straus,
Marcos
Galvao
and Georgi
Karakhanyan
. A protégé of former world kickboxing champion Duke
Roufus, he now owns a stellar 8-2 record under the Bellator banner.
Freire will defend his featherweight title in a rematch with
Weichel at Bellator 188 on Nov. 16 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Pat Curran
vs. Henry
Corrales
:
Curran showed no signs of ring rust in his
first appearance since May 20, 2016, as he recorded a unanimous
decision over “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” graduate John Teixeira
da Conceciao in a three-round featherweight showcase. Scores were
29-28, 30-27 and 30-26. Curran has been one of the pillars of the
Bellator organization for seven-plus years and undoubtedly has
designs on claiming the 145-pound championship for an unprecedented
third time. For now, he waits in line. A former two-division King
of the Cage titleholder, Corrales has quietly pieced together a
two-fight winning streak since his April 2016 submission loss to
the aforementioned Freire. He last competed at Bellator 182 on Aug.
25, when he was awarded a unanimous verdict against Noad
Lahat
.

Carrington
Banks
vs. Zach
Freeman
-Saad Awad
winner:
In Banks, Bellator appears to have uncovered
another gem. The undefeated prospect and onetime member of the
Blackzilians stable improved to 7-0 on the undercard, as he took a
clear-cut unanimous decision from Steve
Kozola
. Banks appeared on Season 21 of “The Ultimate Fighter”
but failed to procure an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract
despite outpointing Sabah
Homasi
. He has not skipped a beat since, winning all three of
his fights in Bellator. The 28-year-old Banks could move quickly in
the promotion’s lightweight division. Freeman and Awad will lock
horns at Bellator 186 on Nov. 3.



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