BELLATOR 184 PRIMER: Monson’s preview and predictions for Caldwell vs. Dantas, Sanchez vs. Straus, Teixeira vs. Curran, Higo vs. Taimanglo

BY ANDY MONSON, MMATorch Contributor

Main Card

Darrion Caldwell (10-1) vs. Eduardo Dantas (20-4) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Darrion Caldwell possesses fearsome power in his wrestling game and will judiciously switch between heavy leather and a punishing ride on the ground, even using knees to the body against an opponent in turtle.  His back control is impressive and is often a sure path to victory.

Dantas is no stranger to a high pressure grappling approach himself and can secure mount by such means as triangling his opponent’s legs before searching for submission opportunities.  He’ll use his head to manipulate posture against the fence and hold somebody in place as he explodes into his next attack.  His body kicks do good work for him and he’ll find a home for them by keeping his man guessing with half-committed grappling entries in between exchanges-though a kick-based attack may not be the wisest choice against the powerful wrestling of Caldwell.

Dantas however, has twice the experience of Caldwell and that will be a factor in this bout.

Prediction:  Dantas will survive a scare or two early on and either win by decision or score a submission victory in the championship rounds.

Emmanuel Sanchez (15-3) vs. Daniel Straus (23-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Sanchez is often loath to retreat, preferring to stay in-pocket and look for counters off of his opponent’s strikes.  When compelled to lead he can go upstairs and downstairs as well as double up his jabs, though he sometimes forgets to mind his hips and walks into a double or a single leg.  He is a fighter who has been around the block enough to develop some interesting tools but has not quite garnered the requisite experience to most effectively utilize some of them, as he has mixed results with some of his spinning attacks on the feet.  A bicycle knee might partially connect but see him eat a straight counter on the way.  He can land some nice strikes from inside the guard but his top game could be heavier and he sometimes is unable to capitalize on opportunities.

Daniel Strauss can apply considerable pressure from half guard and generate ample power with his strikes on the ground, changing levels off of a high kick or punch combination to draw the hands up before diving on the hips or pushing into a clinch where he is content to dirty box against the fence before picking his spot to seize a leg or a trip.  His stand up is dynamic and he can cover distance and change direction on a dime.  Simply put, Straus can do too much too well and the fight is his to lose.

Prediction:  Straus will stay in the driver’s seat and earn a TKO.

John “Macapa” Teixeira (21-2-2) vs. Pat Curran (22-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

John Macapa’s boxing is pleasantly crisp, slipping while he jabs and moving his head mid-combination.  Sometimes he favors a right uppercut lead to start things off.  His leg kicks thump in nicely when he takes the trouble to set them up with hands or goad his foe into circling towards them. Although when he gets careless an opponent will catch one and initiate a grappling exchange.  His footwork occasionally leaves something to be desired as his tendency to skip back on a straight line needlessly lands him on the fence from time to time.

Pat Curran has proven knockout power in his hands and feet and he can angle in and out nicely to pot-shot his opponent before escaping, although he sometimes gets preoccupied throwing power without much of a set-up.  When he activates his wrestling he can shoot lightning quick doubles and start working submission attempts.  His in and out style on the feet does leave him open to leg kicks as he retreats, and that may well come into play against Macapa.

Prediction:  It’s possible this may look like a rerun of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, but expect a different result as Curran secures a victory by submission.  

Leandro Higo (17-3) vs. Joe Taimanglo (23-7-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Higo has a competent enough grasp of distance and lateral movement to keep him out of trouble on the feet long enough to enter a clinch, although his striking defense is by no means impenetrable and he does get tagged on entry.  His arsenal on the feet is by no means world class and he does leave openings when putting the mustard on his own combos, though he does employ a counter right uppercut to decent success.  When opponents commit to putting three or four strikes together in combination, he usually absorbs at least one (particularly when the sequence finishes with a body kick).  His submission game is particularly active and he’ll under hook a leg from half guard as well as use grapevines and butterfly hooks to pursue a submission, his preferred route to victory, gritting his teeth through damage absorbed in the process.

Taimanglo is a grinder pushing for doubles against the fence and pressure passing, spiraling through positions as he digs in short punches.  He’ll snatch a choke if it’s available but is otherwise content to make his foe’s life unpleasant with a heavy cross-face from half guard.  He can change levels into a takedown attempt off of his own punches or his opponent’s, and he occasionally shows some nice head movement, though this sometimes becomes an afterthought when he single mindedly starts pressing forward to initiate a grappling exchange.  Taimanglo can utilize a more patient approach on the feet if his wrestling game is denied.

Prediction:  After some chaos early on, Higo will settle in and take the decision.  

NOW CHECK OUT THE LATEST ROUNDTABLE: Who wins the Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Daniel Straus fight and why?


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