I spoke with undefeated Bellator bantamweight prospect Darrion Caldwell ahead of his upcoming bout with Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 159 on Friday July 22nd at the Kansas Star Arena. We spoke about Caldwell’s title aspirations, Eddie Alvarez flying the flag for Bellator and a potential “special” backflip this Friday night.
Jimmy Smith called you the best kept secret in Bellator. Does it feel like that secret is starting to get out after your last fight?
Darrion Caldwell: Yeah I think that people are starting to realise, after six fights under the Bellator banner now my performances speak for themselves you know?
I think everyone sees your upcoming bout as a number one contender fight, have you been given absolute confirmation of a title shot if you defeat Joe Taimanglo?
DC: Yes, I think that this fight is a tune-up fight. I want to clear out the division after I’ve won that belt and Joe’s in my way.
How would you see a bout between you and current bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas going?
DC: I think I would beat Eduardo Dantas senseless, he doesn’t know how to deal with pressure. I’d go out there and beat him up, make him not want to fight a professional bout again.
The Bellator bantamweight title was held up for over a year due to injuries and fight withdrawals, how frustrating was that for you looking on as a top contender in the division?
DC: I think eventually I’ll get my hands on both of those guys [Eduardo Dantas and Marcos Galvão], my time will come I’m just being patient and trying to act professionally.
From Taimanglo to your last opponent Joe Warren, you’ve been facing veterans of the sport recently, those two have almost 50 fights between them and of course, Warren had an extensive wrestling background before that. Some fighters at 8-0 and 9-0 wouldn’t be requesting these matchups still relatively early in their career, are these tests that you wanted, that you specifically asked for?
DC: Yeah this is what I want, I don’t want to be beating up on guys that aren’t going to test me, you know? I want the best guys in the division, I want to fight the big fights and be under the big lights. I think the way Bellator have brought me up so far has been perfect. I’ll fight this fight on July 22nd, I’m not looking past Joe but I’m gonna beat him up, and then take my throne as the King of the Bellator bantamweight division.
Your last fight was a breakthrough performance. That suplex of an elite wrestler in Joe Warren will be on your highlight reel for the rest of your career. You outwrestled him start to finish, were you surprised at what you were able to do to a wrestler of Joe’s calibre in that fight?
DC: No I wasn’t surprised. I’m not trying to discredit Joe, he’s a world champ but had I stuck with wrestling who knows what I would have done in that sport? I beat three Olympians at my weight class, Frank Molinaro in 2006, Jared Frayer in 2008 and Brent Metcalf in 2012- I beat all of those guys head-to-head. That’s three Olympians I have head-to-head wins over in wrestling. I just felt like MMA was my calling. No disrespect to any wrestler out there who is trying to win a gold medal or be the best at their weight class but I think I just had a different calling. MMA was more for me, it has a lot more upside in terms of what I’m looking for in my life. I think we have some great wrestlers but if I decided to come back and wrestle I’d be the number one guy in the US.
How much confidence did it give you to finish a former champion inside the first round, and will that experience help in a future title shot?
DC: Every fight is different, Joe Taimanglo is not gonna fight like Joe Warren and Eduardo Dantas is not gonna fight like Joe Taimanglo. This fight may be harder than the title fight, you know? It might be a dogfight you never know. I do believe I’m progressing and getting better in every area, so I’ll be able to handle these fights as they come.
Former Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez became the UFC lightweight champion last week. Of course, it’s just one victory but do you feel that validates the quality at the top of the Bellator divisions?
DC: I do, I believe the UFC is known as the best organisation because they are doing a great job as an organisation but also because they’ve been around so long that they market their fighters well and people gravitate towards that. Every fighter wants to be in the UFC so unfortunately, that can be detrimental for us where you’ve got a guy who stands by something, like fighters’ rights, but then another guy who will sign something just because it’s the UFC, you know? They have a lot more depth but I don’t think their champs are necessarily the best in the world of any organisation. They’re guys like Michael Chandler, Andrey Koreshkov, myself who can beat the champs at our respective weight classes in the UFC.
How big of a factor was sponsorship opportunities in signing your recent 7 fight extension with Bellator?
DC: Every fighter needs to train, and train comfortably and Bad Boy help me out with a lot of that. Month by month just making it easier to focus on training and that’s the ultimate goal. When you’re a fighter you’re one of the best athletes in the world and you want to be able to train comfortably like these NFL players, we want to be able to train comfortably and for Bad Boy to get behind me, believe in me, and think I have what it takes, I’m very grateful for that.
You’ve gone between Power MMA in Arizona and Pinnacle MMA in South California in recent bouts, you’ve said before you’re a firm believer in having variety in your coaching, not staying in one spot, where did you prepare for this fight?
DC: I trained at Pinnacle MMA again, fortunately for me I have two gyms that are behind me whichever way I want to go, they know I’m just trying to make the best moves for my career and be strategic on who I’m fighting. Every fight can change but I feel like I get all-around training at Pinnacle and at Power, those are definitely the two camps that I roll with.
You seem to have been posting a lot of Instagram and twitter posts of you training your muay thai during this camp, do you anticipate this fight taking place in the stand-up realm or in the grappling realm you’ve been so dominant in thus far?
DC: I would love to showcase my stand-up. That’s something I’ve not yet been able to do, be able to damage someone on my feet. I know I’ve got it in me, it’s all about making it happen in the cage.
Is it sometimes hard when you’re so accomplished in one area, like wrestling, to really show your other abilities?
DC: Yeah, it’s like if it’s not broke don’t fix it. That’s how I feel until someone can stop my wrestling then why go somewhere else?
How do you see this fight finishing?
DC: I see it finishing in 3 minutes. This guy’s going to be asleep or tapping out in 3 minutes.
Finally, will we see any backflips after this fight?
DC: Yeah you’re gonna see a backflip, this backflip is going to be special because it’s the last backflip before my title-backflip so you’re definitely going to see me in the air, after I’ve put Joe in the air there’ll be backflips overhead.
Keep an eye out for that special backflip at Bellator 159 on Friday, July 22nd
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
Aaron Chalmers vs. Ash Griffiths Added to Bellator 200
A reality television star finally gets his shot and it couldn’t be on much bigger of a stage. Scott Coker and the Bellator promotion announced almost two weeks ago, the organizations milestone event, Bellator 200, would take place in London, England. In the weeks and days following the initial news, fights such as Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop, and Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell became post-humorous additions. Today, promotion officials announced Aaron Chalmers makes a highly anticipated return when he takes on Ash Griffiths, in his promotional debut at the milestone event.
Along with the initial announcement of the event, Bellator officials also announced the first two fights booked to Bellator 200. The first of which matches Gegard Mousasi against Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho. Mousasi, formerly of the UFC, made a high-profile exit from his former employers to sign with Scott Coker (former Strikeforce CEO) and Bellator. His opponent, Rafael Carvalho, is the 3x defending Bellator Middleweight champion. Carvalho defeated fighters such as, Melvin Manhoef (2x), Brandon Halsey, and Alessio Sakara during his reign claiming and defending the title. The second match up includes British star, Michael ‘Venom’ Paige, as he makes his return to the Bellator cage against David Rickels.
With the addition of Aaron Chalmers to Bellator 200, two British stars now grace the card. Two British stars in two different avenues. Michael ‘Venom’ Paige is one of the biggest fighting stars in the country. Of course, Heavyweight Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua tops the list of famous fighters but Paige is on similar career trajectory, as his star only continues to grow. For Aaron Chalmers, his fighting talent did not give rise to the nature of his celebrity.
Before his professional career even began, Aaron Chalmers was cast to and appeared on the 8th season of the British reality television show, Geordie Shore. In case of ignorance to the English reality television scene, Geordie Shore is a reality television series based on the American reality series, Jersey Shore. The plot of which is essentially; Fit, and outgoing young adults move into a home in the city of Newcastle together for the Summer. As bland as that may seem, Aaron Chalmers is a recurring cast-member of the ongoing MTV show.
Chalmers professional MMA career began nearly one year ago. His first pro bout came in May of 2017, at BAMMA 29. At the event, he faced Greg Jenkins whom he defeated via submission by Americana, 2:12 into the opening round. Overall, Chalmers fought three times professionally, winning each contest. Largely, the reality television start hasn’t spent much time in the cage as a pro. His first win, took him deeper into the fight than the two following match-ups. His second and third bouts, (both for BAMMA) ended by KO/TKO inside the first minute of the opening round. At BAMMA 31, Chalmers defeated Alex Thompson by KO in 30 seconds. While his most recent bout against Karl Donaldson at BAMMA 33, also ended by KO/TKO. This time the referee ended the action 43 seconds into the fight.
Chalmers opponent, Ash Griffiths, had a much different path to this point. Griffiths followed a traditional journey as he did not supplant his training for appearances on a large reality TV network. While he remained focused on MMA, it did not translate into recent success. The British fighter currently finds himself in the midst of four consecutive loses, including his Bellator debut. This streak comes after he started his pro career successfully, etching a record of 4-2. Currently, his record sits slightly under a .500 win percentage at 4-6. A win for Griffiths seems necessary in order to stay within the ranks of the Bellator roster.
Bellator 200 takes place at the historic SSE Arena (Formerly known as the Wembley Arena) on May 25th. SSE Arena is the second largest indoor venue in London, holding 12,500 seats.
Report: Bellator plans Rome event for July
With the news of Bellator 200, turning a bit stale being nearly a week old, comes more international event news for the promotion. According to a report by Raphael Marinho of Combate, Bellator scheduled its third international event of 2018. In the report, it states the promotion booked July 14th as a date for a Rome, Italy event.
It will be the first event held by Bellator in the historic city of Rome, Italy. The first in Rome, but the fifth Bellator event in Italy. Previously, the promotion made stops in Torino and Florence, Italy, holding two events in each location. It also marks the 23rd international held by Bellator. 23 events across 10 cities, and 5 countries.
The previous four Italian events held a mixture of combat sports. Each of the events had a Kickboxing card, serving as the main event and an MMA card, which acted as a main card. News of an accompanying Kickboxing card, most likely, would come following a formal announcement of the event.
Also included in the report, the promotion is working to make Alessio Sakara the headliner of evening. Sakara spent nine years with the UFC (Oct. 2005 – Oct. 2013). Over that span, he earned a record of 6-8. He was cut following four consecutive loses. Before signing with Bellator, Sakara signed with Final Fight Championship, where he went 1-0, 1 NC. His final fight with FFC (Final Fight Championship) was a 1:32 KO of his opponent.
The Italian athlete, Sakara, fought on three of the four previous Italy held Bellator events. Sakara headlined Bellator 190 & 168, while begin the co-main event for Bellator 152. Interestingly, the Middleweights only Bellator competition took place in his home country of Italy. He is 2-1 with the promotion, defeating Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, respectively, while losing to Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho, most recently.
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