Eduardo Dantas and Darrion Caldwell will finally meet inside the Bellator cage Friday, and the bantamweight champion can’t wait to put his hands on “The Wolf.”
“Dudu” was originally slated to meet Caldwell in April, but Leandro Higo stepped up on a month’s notice when Caldwell was forced out due to an injury. Dantas won via split decision, and admits he wasn’t too excited to fight an overweight promotional newcomer.
After “fighting strategically just to win” at Bellator 177, Dantas returns in the main event of Friday’s Bellator 184 in Thackerville, Okla., with a whole other mindset.
“It’s completely different now,” Dantas told MMA Fighting. “I can’t make any mistakes, my title is on the line now. There’s a guy there trying to take what’s mine. I’m going straight forward. I’m 120 percent motivated. You can be sure that this fight will be completely different.”
Dantas holds a 10-1 record under the Bellator banner, having avenged his sole loss versus Joe Warren, and has strong words for the bantamweight prospect that will stand across the cage.
“I’m ready to rip ‘The Wolf’s’ head off,” Dantas said. “He’s the wolf and I’m the hunter.”
Even though he’s almost two years older than the champion, Caldwell is seen as one of the top prospects in the bantamweight division, and that doesn’t seem to bother the Brazilian.
“He’s an American and it’s an American promotion, we get it. I know how that works,” Dantas said. “Nothing personal against Caldwell, I know he’s a tough athlete, works hard, but there’s someone way better than him standing in front of him, someone that will run through him.
“I have no bad feelings towards him, but when we step in there, the only thing I think about is hurting him. I want to hurt him, beat him up, hurt his body until he can’t take it anymore.”
With more finishes in MMA (10) than his opponent has wins overall (nine), Dantas is not impressed by anything Caldwell has done so far in the cage.
“I’ll be honest with you: speaking as a MMA fan, Caldwell doesn’t have a style that is fun to watch,” Dantas said. “An MMA fan doesn’t want to watch Caldwell fight because he just grabs you all the time, he barely submits his opponents. He has one good position, taking the back and the rear-naked choke, and that’s it. He can barely pass the guard. He has a good wrestling base, but he doesn’t have a full range of attacks. He’s really basic.”
“He fought (Joe) Taimanglo, who is way shorter than him, and didn’t trade with him standing,” he continued. “He wanted to take him down, he didn’t use his reach, and was submitted by Taimanglo. You can see him getting desperate in the stand-up.
“Caldwell really is a tough athlete, has competed for a long time. Bellator is always giving him fights to promote him, but he won’t sell well because he doesn’t have that factor. I wish him all the luck in other promotions, but he won’t be champion here.”