Following his first successful title defense, Darrion Caldwell found himself trading insults with Bellator featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and it seemed like the door was immediately kicked down for a potential superfight.
However, Caldwell’s focus is more on the belt around Freire’s waist than the fighter himself.
“I just want to fight everybody,” Caldwell told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I don’t want to keep fighting the same guys that I fought. To be honest, that whole Patricky ‘Pitbull’, it’s nothing really on my side against the Pitbull brothers, I just want the belt at 145. So if he ain’t got the belt at 145, he can keep pushing, it’s no fight with me. He’s standing in the way of me and my goals and my goal is to be a two-division champ.
“So let’s make it happen. I’m down for that. I already said I’m down for it, it’s nothing really against him personally, but he’s in the way of my goals so if he’s there when it’s time, let’s make it happen.”
Caldwell might not have any beef with Freire in particular, but it certainly looked like there was some serious animosity after he defeated Freire’s teammate Leandro Higo to retain his 135-pound title in the main event of Bellator 195 last Friday. “The Wolf” needed a little more than half a round to wrestle Higo down and force the tap with a guillotine choke.
During Caldwell’s post-fight interview, Freire had some parting words for the Bellator bantamweight champion, to which Caldwell responded by giving him the middle finger. Make no mistake, while Caldwell is focused on getting a featherweight title shot regardless of the opponent, he’d be happy to take it from “Pitbull”.
“He was just mad that his fighter just got dogged out,” Caldwell said. “Obviously, there’s been some s**t talking back-and-forth from here, his camp and mine, so it just seemed like for him to even say anything while I’m interviewing was disrespectful. You want problems? Let’s negotiate that. Let’s get our management and Bellator involved and let’s make it happen. I’m all for fighting this guy.”
In his run to the top of Bellator’s bantamweight division, Caldwell has already fought a who’s-who of the division’s best, including multiple-time champion Joe Warren, Brazilian star Eduardo Dantas, and twice rival Joe Taimanglo, the latter of whom is responsible for Caldwell’s lone defeat in his 13 pro fights.
One of the reasons that Caldwell wants to take fights at 145 pounds is simply to find fresh challenges.
However, that could come in the form of a couple of UFC bantamweight imports depending on how things shake out in the near future. Caldwell was asked if he would be open to fighting either Michael McDonald or two-time UFC flyweight title challenger John Dodson should “The Magician” sign with Bellator after recently completing the last fight on his UFC contract.
While he doesn’t think that McDonald “really proved himself that he can beat these top guys in Bellator” after outpointing Peter Ligier in his debut last December, Caldwell was more enthusiastic about a potential clash with Dodson.
“I think that would be an awesome fight,” Caldwell said. “I watched John Dodson growing up, coming up in this sport, so for him to be a southpaw as athletic as he is, as fast as he is, I’ve kind of tried to learn his game early on.
“A fight against John Dodson, that would be cool to me. Bellator, bring him in, let’s make it happen. I’m down to beat all these guys, if he’s on the list, bring him over and let’s make it happen. He should get an immediate shot if anything.”