Bellator 184 ‘Dantas vs Caldwell’ takes place Oct. 6, 2017 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Today MMA Mania talks to Darrion Caldwell about his long awaited title shot against Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Dantas.
Bellator 184 “Dantas vs. Caldwell” comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. on Oct. 6, 2017. The main event is a Bantamweight championship defense for Eduardo Dantas (20-4) as “Dudu” faces down “The Wolf” Darrion Caldwell (10-1) in his first crack at a world title.
Caldwell had an impressive streak that seemed destined to lead to a 135 lb. title shot, running up nine wins against no losses, culminating in submitting former champion Joe Warren at the very same venue in Oklahoma. Fight fans and experts alike assumed his next bout with Joe Taimanglo was just a formality — a “keep busy” fight until the champ was ready to meet him.
That in turn led to one of the biggest surprises of 2016 and a loss that momentarily derailed Caldwell’s title aspirations. Bellator MMA clearly believes in “The Wolf” though, giving him the chance to avenge that loss in a rematch and subsequently face the champ on Friday.
Today MMA Mania talks to Darrion Caldwell about his excitement for the most important pro fight of his career this week in Thackerville against Eduardo Dantas.
“Ah it feels good man! It’s been too long. It’s been a long time coming like I said before, it was only a matter of time. This fight’s been inevitable you know. I’ve been watching this kid come up, I’m sure he’s been watching me come up, so the timing’s perfect — it couldn’t a better time.”
The only better time might have been after his Joe Warren win, but Caldwell is grateful Bellator gave him a second chance to beat Joe Taimanglo and prove he deserves this title shot.
“Absolutely. I appreciate Bellator for that opportunity to get that one back. Whenever you lose, me specifically, I want it back. Even in my wrestling career, I never wrestled a guy who beat me twice you know? If I ever lost to someone it was just a few changes I had to make, a few adjustments I had to make. I’ve never been outmatched at any weight that I’ve competed in so it was cool to be able to get that one back.”
Even though he’s got his No. 1 spot back now Caldwell is gracious about his loss to Taimanglo and gives him the props he deserves.
“Joe Taimanglo is a good fighter. That goes to show you know you can’t underestimate anyone. Everyone’s got a puncher’s chance, (has) got a flying choke’s chance you know so, staying the course and continuing to grind has gotten me back here.”
That’s not the only shine Caldwell gave in this interview as he fully credits Joe Warren as being the only other man who could do what he aims to do this Friday.
“I think Joe Warren’s a great fighter you know? All credit to Joe for going out there and trying to get his title back and competing with Dantas. Even though he’s beaten everyone he’s fought besides me and Dantas, I don’t feel like he has that hunger that got him those world titles in two weight classes (any more). His time was numbered to be the best in the world, but he’s still ONE of the best in the world. It was time for a new hungry ‘Wolf’ to come in and take over.”
That’s bad news for “Dudu” because it means Caldwell is on the hunt and Dantas will feel the heat a moment behind him once they touch the ground in Thackerville.
“Yeah it’s never gonna be a home away from home (but) I enjoy the fans and the hospitality. They’ve shown me love out there in Oklahoma. I’m definitely going to make a point where fans want to see me in other states, specifically here in California (and) out in New York, New Jersey, somewhere outside Thackerville.”
Forget the Duran Duran references though — Caldwell is serious about exporting his fighting style to every territory on the map Bellator will go to.
“Me fighting for world titles in Thackerville is just not ideal for me. It might be ideal for Joe Warren or Eduardo Dantas but they can’t really do anything with this division. I’m the man in this division. Everyone in the nation is going to see that (October 6) and want to see me in their state so that’s what’s important.”
What then is the plan for Caldwell to take the title from a fast moving hard to nail target like Dantas inside the Bellator cage? Be long and be strong with the range and the wrestling.
“I think the reach advantage is something like seven. Last time I looked his was 67 and mine is 74, unless he’s grown a couple of inches since the last time I’ve seen him. I don’t feel like he poses anything I haven’t seen here in the gym at Alliance. I don’t think he matches up well with me but that’s why we fight these fights. Come October 6th I don’t see him making it past me.”
Three different sources I checked list Dantas at 69”, but Caldwell is confident that even if the reach was much closer than he’s the perfect man to neutralize Dantas’ speed.
“If there’s one thing he’s not going to do it’s outmaneuver me. I’m the maneuver guy. I hear the term ‘most athletic’ being thrown around a lot. I’m the most athletic, this guy’s the most athletic, (but) I’m truly the most athletic guy inside the cage.”
Caldwell also believes the dues he’s paid in camp will pay the dividends in his performance Friday.
“I think if you come out of camp without any nicks and bruises then I don’t think you trained hard enough and you don’t deserve to win. I don’t really see anything with my body being a problem. I think I’ll be a hundred percent ready to perform on Spike TV, October 6th for Bellator for the Bellator world title.”
In closing “The Wolf” is so confident in his win that he’s prepared to celebrate in style with more than one backflip.
“Shit you might see three of em!”
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Dantas vs. Caldwell” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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