Baby Joe Taimanglo stayed in the hunt for a Bellator world championship with an impressive split decision win over former champion and promotion icon Joe Warren in Bellator 195 in Oklahoma.
Taimanglo’s stand up game and takedown defense against a world-class wrestler proved to be the difference in a 30-27, 30-27, 28-29 win over the former three-time world champion.
The fight following had current champ Darrion Caldwell choke out Leandro Higo in the first round to retain his title.
After the fight, Chael Sonnen asked Caldwell if he was down for a trilogy with Baby Joe. BJT is the only fighter to beat Caldwell as a pro.
Caldwell said, “Baby Joe, who?”
If anything, Baby Joe sure put on a show against Warren to warrant a title shot and break the 1-1 tie with Caldwell.
The first round was close as Warren used his wrestling prowess to take down Baby Joe on two occasions, but BJT’s striking was on point and did some major damage to Warren’s face with his right hand.
The second round was all standup with Taimanglo once again getting the best of his older opponent with some solid strikes from both hands, all the while defending the takedown with ease.
The third and final round turned into a ground game exhibition as both world-class athletes displayed excellent transitions and positioning with Taimanglo nearly ending the match with a guillotine before Warren popped his head out right before the horn.
This snaps Taimanglo’s two-fight losing streak (Caldwell and Higo) and keeps him in the hunt for the title he’s long wanted. Let’s just hope the Bellator brain trust makes the trilogy happen next.
Baby Joe Taimanglo is fighting to stay relevant in Bellator’s bantamweight division and a win over former champion Joe Warren will only solidify his placement atop the division’s rankings.
Taimanglo-Warren will be the co-main event in Bellator 195 on March 2nd (March 3rd on Guam) in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The main fight is for the title between Darrion Caldwell and Leandro Higo – the two men last to beat Baby Joe in 2017.
But for now, the sight is on Warren (15-6), a 41-year-old former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion going into his 19th fight under the Bellator umbrella.
“I’m game to fight whoever,” Baby Joe said. “I really don’t care. Any big name that they give me, I’m willing to accept those fights and it’s a better opportunity for me. If it’s an opportunity for the belt i’ts great, if not then it’s a chance to beat up whoever they put in front of me.”
Though eight years younger than Warren, Taimanglo has put in more miles, fights and years than his older opponent. Baby Joe (23-8-1) has 11 more pro fights and has fought professionally five years longer.
“I feel tired,” BJT said. “I’ve been doing it since I was 19. I still push through any kind of situations. I’m all natural and that’s what separates me from being who I am and to be the next world champion.
“There’s a good thing and bad thing about getting older. I’m able to learn a lot from my last fights and training. That’s a good thing for me, but having the age coming across, you get tired and your body breaks down, doesn’t heal as fast, but I’m always willing to go.”
Baby Joe has always been a sports anomaly – the shortest (and usually smallest) guy on the team who happens to the strongest. (aka ga’ga’)
After nearly five years with Bellator that saw him relocate from Guam to San Diego to concentrate on his fighting career, Taimanglo is relying on that old Chamoru work ethic to get him through this fight camp.
“I’ve always had a hard working ethic. These guys have a lot of financial help and people backing them up. Me, if I get hurt I get hurt. I have to heal it up the old fashion way. I just push through it.”
With just two fights left on his current contract, BJT wants to give the title shot another go.
“My contract is almost up with them. I got in this sport not to be third or second, I came in to be world champion. I’m working hard and keeping my mouth shut and doing what a champion needs to do.”
A cloud that has hovered over his head in the past is his ability to make weight. He says that’s not a concern this time around.
“I’m really on track right now as far as my weight. I’m very happy with that. I have less than two weeks to make 135 or 136. It’s tough though. I did sign up for this and I’m excited.”
Taimanglo’s weight has fluctuated between 148 lbs and 154 lbs but says his diet has been on point and the weight cut shouldn’t be a problem. “I made weight last time easy and I’ll make it easier this time.”
Baby Joe shocked the world in July 2016 when he upset current champion Caldwell via guillotine choke as a -1500 underdog. Caldwell was undefeated then and was on the fast track to a title shot. Caldwell would redeem the loss to Taimanglo five months later with a unanimous decision win before taking the title from Eduardo Dantas last October. Warren lost his title to Dantas in 2014.
As for the style comparison between the 5’6″ Warren and 5’10” Caldwell, Baby Joe stated the obvious height difference.
“You have to adjust to more lanky people, the reach and the distance. Joe Warren is my size. It’s going to show what I can do with someone my size. The body types are different. With the same height and distance as Joe Warren, it gives me an advantage to dictate the fight. It’s looking like a bad situation for Joe Warren this upcoming fight.”
5TH TIME AROUND
Going into his 11th Bellator fight, this will be his fifth time fighting at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma. “It’s going to be on TV. You get to see everything on TV with all the angles, especially the lead up to the fight.When I see the replay, it gives me goose bumps. I do get chills when I see Frank (Camacho) and Jon (Tuck in UFC) when they go in there because they make the sacrifice to show up and fight.
“When you go in the cage and those lights are shining bright and you know that the other guy is not going to lay down and he’s trying to put you out, that’s scary right there. I’m scared as heck. I’m human. Every fight, people don’t see that. I gag and go to the restroom. I’m so nervous. The guy prepared for me and is going to do everything in his willpower not to lose either. But when all the dust settles after the fight, it’s a great reward to finish it.”
Now 33 years old and miles of the sport starting to take its toll, Baby Joe looks back being grateful for all the support he’s been given (especially from his mother Josephine) but also still has his eye on the prize with Joe Warren right in front.
“It’s going to be an exciting fight. It’s a great match-up between Joe Warren and me. In the end, I’m going to retire this guy. I’m going to put him out and show the world that Baby Joe is going to the next bantamweight Bellator champion.”
76/Circle K will be holding a pre-fight promotion for BJT at their Dededo gas station on March 1st from 3-8 pm. Everyone spending $20 or more on gas will be receiving a free BJT promo item.
Fuetsa, So Kel Guam, SPPC/76, Genesis Recovery, Mi Sazon Mexican Grill, Fuesta, Sen. Dennis Rodriquez, Route 1 Tees, Sign Write, Myrnas Beauty & Barber Shop, Gutierrez/Bordallo, Chode’s Food Service, Sign Write, DJ Gabbyman, DJ Quen and Sam Ochoa.
It’s been over 10 months since Baby Joe Taimanglo stepped into the Bellator cage, and though it’s been a while, he’s still very well in the thick of things in the promotion’s bantamweight division.
BJT is back in action this Saturday (Chamorro Standard Time) against Leandro Higo, another top-ranked fighter who is coming off a split decision loss at the hands of bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas in April.
The big fight is part of Bellator 184 in Thackerville, Oklahoma where the main event is the bantamweight title fight between Dantas and Darrion Caldwell. Yes, the same Darrion Caldwell that BJT beat in stunning fashion in July 2016 before redeeming that loss in December. It was the last fight for both Taimanglo and Caldwell.
This will be BJT’s 10th fight in Bellator in his 23-7-1 pro resume’. Now 33 years old and ranked 18th in world in his division, Taimanglo knows he needs a win this weekend to stay atop of the elite class.
“He’s ready!,” said cousin Joe Gogo, a training partner in San Diego and a muay thai champion himself.
Weigh-ins for Bellator is Friday morning (CST). In Taimanglo’s corner once again will be fellow Guam chelu’ Vince Salvador, one of the top striking coaches coming out of San Diego’s The Arena gym.
This will be Baby Joe’s third fight in Thackerville under the Bellator flagship. He beat Sirwan Kakai there in March 2016 before dropping to Caldwell last December.
Just in case someone was shooting to break Guam’s national marathon record – it just got harder from the man who already held it.
Wayne Blas smashed his very own Guam marathon record by 35 seconds Sunday in the California International Marathon in Sacramento, California.
Blas set the Guam record in the same race last year, this time crossing the finish line in two hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds.
“My training for this mararthon was by far my best training ever,” Blas told GSPN after his record-breaking performance. “Leading up to it, I did a few races and set my PR’s in those races (10-mile and half marathon) so going into this race, I was in the best shape ever. I was certainly confident going into this.”
Running in his second marathon of the year – the other being the Boston Marathon in April – Blas was right on his race pace at the halfway mark at 1:15:12. “That was perfect, it was exactly where I wanted to be,” said the Army Major stationed at Aberden Proving Ground, Maryland.
As a net downhill elevation race with hills throughout the race Blas calls ‘mini Boston’, his hamstrings started to tighten up at mile 10.
“I was very fortunate that my hamstring held up – it’s still very sore way past the race.”
Blas’ mile splits were 5:45 for the first half. “Every mile after that, I was doing ok, but once I started seeing my splits go up to 5:47/8 and up to 6:00, those slower miles add up quickly.
“At mile 22, realizing that I had four miles left, I tried to stay mentally tough and kept grinding and fortunately brought back my splits below 5:50’s. My last mile was 5:48.”
That’s blazing for mile 26!
One goal was reached as he broke his own National record. His other goal of running sub 2:30 was just out of reach.
“Not at all. I had a cold at the beginning of the week. I was worried as to how bad it would affect me in the race. I was trying to be smart as the week progressed. I did what I can, but I always had a positive attitude.
“I thought my fitness was definitely capable of breaking the 2:30, but a marathon is a marathon. Anything can happen. I wasn’t down or disappointed, because even though I was in shape, running a sub 2:30 is still difficult.”
After running his 24th marathon, the 38-year-old JFK graduate (Class of ’95) will take a few days off to make the body recover.
“I like to make sure I do a full recovery. I won’t run for the next three days. I’ll still do a lot of walking and stressing with active recovery, but I’d like to take two to three days off. I’d eat a lot of protein and carbs and stay hydrated over the next few days. Then do some very easy running after that, just doing a few miles to get the oxygen back into the muscles.”
As for the future, Blas still has the magical 2:30 mark in sight.
“The last few marathons have been my best marathons. I still think I have a 2:30 in me. As long I’m still progressing and enjoying what I do, I’ll keep going for it. I’m getting closer.”
They always say you can take the boy from the island, but can’t take the island from the boy.
For first cousins Joe Gogo and Baby Joe Taimanglo, the sport of mixed martial arts has taken them away from Guam, but Guam is always where the heart is.
Both fighters returned home this past summer not only to spend time with family and friends, but to give back to the community they grew up in. Both participated in numerous campaigns to include anti-bullying, fitness at home and the workplace and others.
“It was awesome educating people about the importance of fitness and also teaching them styles of workouts that can be done even at home,” Gogo said before returning to work and training in San Diego. “I came back home and hung out with family, did a little work with the Guam Muay Thai club, and ate all the good food. It was awesome to come home and just be a Chamorro: say our style of jokes, use the old coconut as mosquito coil, hit the beaches, and hangout with the pars at Camachile (Tree Store in Yona).”
Gogo is coming off a MMA title in Mexico and a Muay Thai title fight as well, while Taimanglo (21-6) is riding a two-fight win streak in Bellator.
“We really took a break from talking about martial arts while on island,” Gogo said about his time spent with his cousin BJT. “It’s awesome to come home and really see that people appreciated what I’m trying to do. I’m not just trying to put Guam on the map, many people have already done that. I want to be Guam’s first Chamorro World Champion.”
As for the changes on Guam, Gogo said some things have changes, some things haven’t.
“Guam was so beautiful on this trip – bright, green, and hot..haha. The water felt nice too because it’s warm not like the mainland where the ocean is freezing. I like that some things don’t change. But certain things did for the better. I went to Chamorro Village and its packed with tourists which is awesome for Guam, pumping money into the island. There are businesses popping up which means more jobs.”
MANILA – The taxi ride in the wee hours after UFC Manila summed up mixed martial arts’ explosion in Asia.
“Boxing is dead,” said cab driver Junetoy. Of course, knowing that I was at the fights at the Mall of Asia Arena, he quickly made reference to Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Floyd Mayweather two weeks back.
As a boxing-crazed country for decades, the Philippines showed why MMA may very well be taking over boxing with a sold-out crowd at UFC Fight Night 66 – the first UFC event in the Philippines ever.
May 16, 2015 will also go down in the Guam sports history books as the best MMA day ever for our island. A much-appreciated turn of events for our island recovering from Typhoon Dolphin just the day before.
It all started stateside where Baby Joe Taimanglo did his part in dismantling Mexican Antonio Duarte with a one-shot right hand that floored his opponent in Bellator 137 in Temecula, California.
It was almost lunch time here in Manila and the buzz on social media about Baby Joe’s win surely got the fans pumping heading into the night’s events.
It was Jon Delos Reyes’ turn, needing a UFC win badly after dropping his first two attempts last year. And what a battle it was. With the Guam flags waving throughout the Arena, JDR proved his worth with a second round rear-naked choke on Roldan Sangcha-an, one the Philippines’ best. This despite getting cut badly over his right eye earlier in the round and blood was flowing profusely. Everyone around the press were talking ‘Fight of the Night’ – and it stood up as both fighters took home $50,000 bonuses. The bonus is a pretty penny for JDR, but imagine what it does to a fighter from the Philippines. He could be set for life with this one fight.
I’m sure Tuck felt the pressure at the back, knowing that Guam was 2-0 at that point. He received the second most crowd ovation in the night only behind the Filipino fighters. Being the golden boy of Guam MMA, he certainly had the huge backing from the Guam fans who flew out but he’s also developed a P.I. following since his PXC days.
I remember my conversation with Tuck when he came home after his loss to Kevin Lee last year, which I thought was his best performance I’ve seen of him despite the loss.
We both agreed that he needed to “meet him in the middle”, meaning beat his opponent to the middle and be the aggressor instead of retreating back.
Always a slow starter, Tuck did his usual feeling-out process and started meeting Tae Hyun Bang in the middle. And in a matter of seconds, Tuck turned on his “Super Saiyan Level II” and displayed his striking prowess and jiu-jitsu expertise to win ‘Performance of the Night’ and a $50,000 bonus as well.
All the hard work and sacrifice from these three elite athletes have been paying off.
The Big John Calvos and Manny Chongs and yes, Wenyu ‘One Time’ Bambas, are the pioneers of the sport, but these three took it to the next level(s) and are reaping the fruits of their labor today.
Yes, they had to leave the island to hone their skills. It’s a numbers game. There’s only so many other people to train and sacrifice with on Guam. Who likes to get punched in the face anyway?
Only time will tell if we will have a Bellator or UFC champion. We all cheer and hope so.
One thing’s for sure. For one day, Guam stood proud for our island warriors.
Note: The arena experience during Mark Munoz’s final fight in the UFC was magical. You just had to be there to experience it. Obviously a country favorite getting his dream to fight in front of his own people, Munoz turned back the clock and had the fairy tale ending against the much taller Luke Barnatt. The crowd exploded on every big right hand he struck and chanted ‘Munoz, Munoz’ on several occasions. He displayed his striking and wrestling once more and left his UFC gloves in the middle of the Octagon after victory. In the press row, we are prohibited to applaud, take pictures or videos, but I couldn’t help but stand and applaud for him as he walked right in front after he left the cage.
Longtime MMA/boxing/Muay Thai trainer and coach Sonny Chargualaf knows how to work the mits and the pads when preparing his fighters for battle.
He’s also very good at the fine craft of art.
In fact, he’s been teaching Art at JFK High School for 14 years now and he’s just recently combined the two traits together with some cool digital artwork featuring the island’s MMA fighters.
” I draw almost daily,” said Chargualaf, who heads the Team Countershot camp with the likes of Jon Delos Reyes, Ricky Camp, Josh Alvarez and Robert Wusstig. “The artwork is all digital. The covers are reimagined covers of iconic comic book covers that I thought would fit local and worldwide MMA fights and the culture. I’ve been doing digital art on my laptop almost exclusively for the past three years.”
As for piecing the two fields together, it was a no-brainer since Chargualaf spends countless hours doing two things he loves.
“Local and international MMA has a pretty deep culture, and I’m lucky enough to train/teach some local amateurs and pros. So the martial arts lifestyle, along with my love of comic books, movies, games, etc. all work together and influence the pieces I produced.”
Chargualaf says it takes about a week from conception to completion on his pieces of work. He had a showing at Guma Tasa Coffee Shop in Mangilao in December and plans to start selling prints there shortly.
Like millions of other artists, Chargualaf pulls his inspiration from American comics icon Stan Lee, co-creator of comic books such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk and many others.
“He kind of feels like he’s every comic fan’s grandfather. So glad to have met him. Not sure if my life’s direction would have been the same without his creation and involvement with Marvel Comics.”
It’s a small MMA organization but it’s a championship belt, nevertheless.
Guam native Joe Gogo took a championship fight on two days notice and came out victorious, earning a second round submission to earn the International Thai Boxing Organization (ITBO) featherweight championship in Ensanada, Mexico at the San Nicholas Hotel and Casino.
“I was a replacement for one of my teammates that suffered an injury in camp,” the 25-year-old told GSPN. “They asked me Thursday evening right before I was gonna clock in at work. I woke up Friday morning and had to lose eight pounds before 12 pm for the weigh ins. Luckily the fight was already set for a catch weight of 140, so I didn’t have to go down to 135 lbs.”
Fighting in Mexico wasn’t any different for Gogo, who is used to being the underdog “simply because nobody knows me.”
“The fight went well. I could tell I was the superior striker from the get-go as I landed leg kicks and kicks to his head. Eventually he took me down and went for submissions, I defended them and got back to my feet then took him down ending the first round with ground and pound.
“Second round came, I landed a few combinations and right as he ducked his head to avoid them I through a heavy knee that opened his face up. I was going for the knockout but he did a good job at wrestling so I was able to land more shots. Eventually I took him down and landed some elbows, he turned away from them and that’s when I took his back and choked him.”
In his corner was none other than first cousin Baby Joe Taimanglo, who crossed the border from his training grounds of San Diego to support his primo.
“Having Baby Joe is very important because we grew up together and we train everyday together,” Gogo added. “He knows me. I had a lot of confidence going in there because I go to war with my cousin regularly and he’s one of the best. Plus, I train at Alliance MMA with Dominick Cruz and other UFC vets.”
Gogo is still new in the MMA game, improving to 2-0, and says smaller shows like this is a stepping stone to get into the UFC.
The last time Gogo was on Guam was last November for a family funeral.
“The Guamanians come to bang, man,” said a commentator of Bellator 116, describing Baby Joe Taimanglo’s style of fighting against UFC veteran Rob Emerson in a bantamweight clash at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.
The more experienced Emerson came away with the unanimous decision, however, with a tough fought 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 win.
BJT had a couple of head-and-arm throws in the opening round that were neutralized by some hard standup hits from his taller opponent. Taimanglo slapped on a late rear-naked choke that Emerson was able to wade out until the bell.
The second round was more of the same as Taimanglo nearly pulls off another choke, only to have Emerson rattle ‘The Juggernaut’ with some hard rights.
Both fighters stayed on their feet in the final round with Emerson being more of the aggressor and landing several body hooks and coming forward throughout.
At the end, referee Big John McCarthy raised the hand of Emerson in victory as he improves to 16-10, including five in a row.
Taimanglo has dropped his second straight unanimous decision and falls to 19-6-1.