Darrion Caldwell defends MMA title with submission

Former Wolfpack wrestler chokes out opponent in first round

Darrion Caldwell celebrates after choking out challenger Leandro Higo in the first round (photo courtesy Bellator MMA)

Former NC State wrestler Darrion Caldwell made his first successful defense of the Bellator Bantameight title with a first-round submission of Leandro Higo on Friday night.

Defending the title he won in October, Caldwell made short work of the 18-3 Higo, recording his sixth career first-round stoppage. Caldwell’s five submission victories are tied for second most in Bellator, and his nine Bellator wins are tied for sixth most.

 In an expletive-filled interview immediately after the fight, Caldwell said he was willing to defend his title against all comers.

“I’m not calling none of you chumps out,” he said. “If you want it, come get some.”

After about two minutes of feeling out, Caldwell scored the first takedown of the fight, shooting in and putting Higo on his back. The challenger worked his way to his feet on the cage, at which point Caldwell landed a knee, then powered Higo back to the mat for another takedown.

Caldwell then caught the downed Higo with a guillotine choke, forcing a tap-out at the 2:36 mark of the first round.

“As soon as I got my hands on him, I knew it was going to be a wrap,” Caldwell said. “He wasn’t that strong. These (135)-pounders aren’t that strong.”

Caldwell has been rumored to be considering a move to the Featherweight (145-pound) weight class, but he sounded more than willing to remain at Bantamweight for the near future, calling out several 135-pound challengers by name.

“I don’t give a (expletive),” he said. “Hey (Bellator president) Scott Coker, you know I want whoever. Michael McDonald, Eduardo Dantas, Baby Joe (Taimanglo, who won in the fight prior to Caldwell’s main event). (Expletive), give this guy a rematch. I don’t care.”