Bellator 184 Results: Leandro Higo Battles Joe Taimanglo to Decision Victory

Bellator 184 Joe Taimanglo Landro Higo
Credit: Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA returned to action Friday night with Bellator 184, live from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. In the main event, bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas put his 135lb title on the line against challenger Darrion Caldwell. Prior to that, the promotion filled the card with bantamweight and featherweight bouts that would shape their respective divisions for months to come. Among them, a bantamweight showdown between Joe Taimanglo and Leandro Higo that kicked off the main card.

Higo was looking to get things back on track after missing weight for a short-notice title shot in April at Bellator 177. Guam’s Joe Taimanglo, meanwhile, was coming off a loss in the second of two fights against Darrion Caldwell, who would challenge for gold later in the evening at Bellator 184.

Off the opening bell, Joe Taimanglo immediately looked to clinch up against the fence. The pair would grind it out there for the first two minutes, with a couple of reversals but not much action. Unable to get the takedown, Taimanglo was eventually forced back to the center of the cage. There, the fighters finally began opening up and trading, with Taimanglo catching Higo a time or two before taking his opponent down. Higo, however, got right back to his feet, and the pair went back to a clinch, this time with Higo in control early. A foot  stomp later and they were back in the middle with Higo soon catching Taimanglo on the way in. A takedown of his own then capped off the round for Higo.

The second saw some early leg kick action, and less clinching early on. Leandro Higo would clinch a minute in then follow it up immediately with a jumping knee, and it started to seem as if he was in a higher gear than Joe Taimanglo. His takedown defense and combinations proved superior by the midway point of round two, while Taimanglo seemed to have trouble finding his range at times. Higo then began working his leg kicks at a quicker pace, and seemed to be the fresher of the two fighters. A takedown via an outside trip likely secured the second frame for Higo, and heading to a third, Guam’s Taimanglo may have needed a finish.

In the third round, Leandro Higo’s ability to sneak inside Joe Taimanglo’s punches and land the odd right hand of his own was the story. A bit of grappling, and not much else, peppered the round early, as despite potentially needing a stoppage, Taimanglo simply wasn’t able to find it. An eye poke by Higo gave Taimanglo a chance to catch his breath, but in reality, the fight had already slipped away from him, as Higo’s solid takedown defense and superior movement kept him out of harm’s way. Taimanglo did manage to take the back of a standing Higo with roughly a minute remaining, but it was too little, too late, especially when Higo locked in a last minute guillotine attempt shortly after. Going to the scorecards, the judges had it for Higo, who picked up his first win in Bellator MMA.

Leandro Higo def. Joe Taimanglo by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)