Following last week’s Bellator London event, the organization returns to more familiar grounds as the Kansas Star Arena will play host to Bellator 159. While Michael Page received many of the headlines last week, this week may feature Bellator’s top fighter to keep an eye on, Darrion Caldwell. The former NCAA wrestling champion has made one of the smoothest transitions to MMA of any wrestling prospect, and already holds wins over former Bellator two-division champion Joe Warren, and previous bantamweight title challenger Rafael Silva in his unblemished 8-0 record. His latest challenge will come from Joe Taimanglo, winner of his past three Bellator bouts. It’s likely that the winner of this bout will take on Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator bantamweight title. The lightweight co-main event should prove to be an entertaining bout, as David Rickels and Melvin Guillard should be looking for the knockout when they face off. Guillard is still looking for his first Bellator win in what will be his third appearance, while Rickels hopes to continue his climb back up the division towards another potential title shot (although the prospect of a third fight with Michael Chandler may not be all that appealing to Rickels). The main card will also feature a featherweight contender’s bout between Daniel Weichel and Emmanuel Sanchez, and a women’s strawweight fight pitting undefeated Bruna Vargas against Emily Ducote. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the main card of Bellator 159 today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Darrion Caldwell is going to look extremely impressive against all of his opponents until someone forces him to stay on his feet. If Joe Warren wasn’t able to do that, I don’t see Joe Taimanglo being able to either. For that matter, when Caldwell eventually gets a title shot in Bellator — especially if it’s against Eduardo Dantas — I’d feel very confident picking him there too. Melvin Guillard is either unwilling or unable to pull the trigger at this point in his career. Luckily for him, David Rickels could be about as good a stylistic matchup as he can get in a relevant matchup. I say could be, because we have seen Rickels go to his grappling at times in the past, but he prefers to strike. If this stays on the feet, Guillard has a shot. If Rickels comes out and wrestles, he should be able to hand Guillard his third consecutive Bellator loss with relative ease. I’ll side with Rickels because he has multiple ways to win, but I’m not entirely confident. Both Emmanuel Sanchez and Daniel Weichel are 5-1 in Bellator, but they’ve done it in very different ways. Sanchez has made his Bellator career out of split decisions, earning three in the organization. On the other hand, Daniel Weichel has been impressive in nearly all of his performances, including his failed bid for the featherweight title, which saw him almost stop Patricio ‘Pitbull’ in the opening round. I think Weichel’s ground game will deter Sanchez from looking for takedowns, and his striking is simply sharper than Sanchez’ which should propel him to a decision victory. I wonder what could have compelled Scott Coker to put a 2-0 fighter who hasn’t competed since 2014 on his main card? Oh wait, I just did a Google Image search and it all makes sense. Vargas should be the better submission grappler here, but with this being her first fight outside of Brazil and Ducote being a capable wrestler, I think the public will make this line too high. I’m not planning on betting it, but maybe look for another parlay leg instead of Vargas if you really want some degenerate action this weekend.