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Exclusive Interview with Bellator’s Rising Bantamweight Star Darrion Caldwell

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Everyone knows Conor McGregor, the man has made a name for himself with his constant trash talk and his ability to back up that talk inside the octagon. Well, people better take notice of the Bellator bantamweight division because they have their own version and his name is Darrion Caldwell. I got the chance to speak with the undefeated bantamweight and he did not disappoint.

He gave a little glimpse into his training before we even officially got started when he commented on the California weather, saying, “All that heat, running hills. I’m out here pushing cars, they got me pulling trucks, it’s crazy.”

Caldwell was an NCAA wrestler at North Carolina State University where he amassed an incredible 109-13 record, was an All-American, a National Champion, and only missed making the Olympic team due to injury. When I asked about the transition between wrestling and MMA he simply said, “You can’t teach winning. You either got it or you don’t. I’m not really big on losing. If there’s a man in front of me and I’ve gotta master him then that’s something I take great pride in.” He also said that the drop from featherweight to bantamweight, “It was just something I had to make an adjustment to but I’m turning into a great 135lber.”

Since his foray into MMA, Caldwell is undefeated with a record of 7-0. He doesn’t see any pressure from that undefeated streak though. “Being undefeated is just a product of winning.” He then took it one step further by saying, “I’m gonna finish my career undefeated. I’m always gonna have that target that these guys wanna knock me off. As long as it’s me in there fighting, I have the ability to force the outcome and I’m gonna stay undefeated.”

He has been vocal about wanting a title shot after past fights, so naturally I asked him if he thought a victory at Bellator 143 against Shawn Bunch would give him what he’s been asking for. “I want the title shot after this fight. I want to fight the best guy in the organization. I’m going to be the champion. No one in front of me is gonna stop me. This fight is gonna make my case for that title shot.” He seems to view the title shot as a mere formality, however, “I’m the best in the division, everyone knows it. It’s just a matter of time until I get my hands on those guys. It doesn’t matter when I get them, they’ll be lining up once I’m the champion. I don’t care who it is. I’m coming for guy’s heads. Nobody in the 135 division can handle me. I know Joe Warren likes to call himself the baddest man on the planet, but that’s a lie. I’m the baddest man on the planet. I’m the baddest guy at 135. I want that strap.”

As far as a game plan for his next fight, Caldwell didn’t mince words. “I’m gonna finish this guy. He’s nothing more than a fighter standing in my way of my destiny. The game plan is to hurt this guy. I’m definitely approaching this fight with the thought that I’m gonna make a statement. I’m gonna let the division know, whatever they thought before, they thought wrong, here comes the real sh*t right now. Whether I get the chance to break his arm or break his jaw, somebody’s gonna get hurt.”

One thing is for sure, Darrion Caldwell certainly knows how to promote a fight. He’s backed up every word so far and there’s no reason to doubt that he’ll do it again at Bellator 143. He says he’s looking to make a statement and put the division on notice. I’m sure there will be plenty of bantamweight fighters watching to see just what that statement is going to be.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.

This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.

Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK

  • Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
  • Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
  • Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK

  • 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
  • Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
  • Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
  • Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
  • Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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