Bellator recently announced that the organization’s current bantamweight titleholder Darrion Caldwell (13-1) will represent the promotion against 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix winner Kyoji Horiguchi (25-2). The two will compete for the inaugural Rizin bantamweight championship at Rizin 14 on Monday, December 31 from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
MyMMANews reporter Tony Reid caught up with Caldwell after his recent Bellator 204 win. That interview below.
Tony Reid – You are fresh off a dominant victory over Noah Lahat at Bellator 204. You jumped back up to featherweight. What are your thoughts on your performance at the higher weight class?
Darrion Caldwell – “I’m excited to be able to jump back in the pool at 145. I wanted to test out how far I’ve come along since I was last in action there. To get back at 145 and put on a performance that I’m happy with, any time I get a finish is cool. Just getting a win doesn’t do it for me. Any time I can get a finish it seems more satisfying. I was just happy to get back to ’45 and mix it up with the guys there.”
TR – After the fight you said you are happy but not satisfied. Ultimately the 145 pound strap is on your mind. Is that the goal at this point?
DC – “Absolutely. That is the goal. That is the only reason I’m at 145. My whole purpose in this sport is to get out of it as much as I could. To leave a legacy that everyone wasn’t s to be able to leaves. If I get that second belt I secure my legacy in the mixed martial arts world forever.”
TR – There have been a few fighters that have accomplished that feat in the UFC but only one in Bellator to this point, so that would put you in super-elite company. Do you sense that monumental accomplishment on the horizon?
DC – “Absolutely. It’s monumental and I do believe I am the next guy in line for that. You have Rory fighting for the title. You have Bader right there in the mix in the heavyweight grand prix. Those are legends of the sport and to be able to accomplish the goal of getting that second belt, it would put my name with those guys. That is a short list to pick from. That would cement my legacy.”
TR – Patricio Pitbull is one of The Armpit Brothers as you call them. There were some comments on Twitter that he made about coming down in weight to fight for your title. What are your thoughts on the recent comments?
DC – “I think that is telling, giving himself and out if he loses to me. I am hoping he gets the job done and then we can set that up. I know he was talking crap about coming down to 135. Really? Who wants to cut an extra ten pounds and have to suffer to fight somebody who is fighting in your weight class right now? I think that is just another way for him to hide from me. He is running. He is talking shit but he knows he already has a fight lined up. I think that is pretty cowardice. He is trying to avoid the fight with me. By him saying he wants to come down to 135, that is just adding more grey area to the situation. Let’s just make it happen at 145. Get through this fight and then sign the contract. I’m healthy. I will be back in camo in the next week. The goal is Pitbull. I don’t want to sit idle. At the same time, I can’t just sit around and wait for him. He’s not that important. I want to stay active. If he doesn’t want to take the fight before the year is out, we will have to make adjustments for another training camp. Eventually we will fight each other. This has become more personal. When you are fighting you consider each fight personal or business. For me, this fight is both. However he wants to give up his belt is fine. It’s just a matter of time.”
TR – You mentioned something there and it’s a topic that has come up in your career. You thrive on that trash talk. It fuels you fire. Do you prefer to have a little beef going into a fight?
DC – “Absolutely. MMA is a weird sport. I don’t come from a traditional beating and hurting guys background. I’m trained to do so. In wrestling we are trained to put guys on their back and submit them in our world. It’s easier for me going into a fight knowing I want to hurt someone that a situation where the guy is more friendly or who doesn’t want to be there. I want the guy to try to hurt me, so that killer comes out.”
TR – James Gallaher suffered a devastating loss on that same card. Do you think he ever really wanted a fight with you?
DC – “I don’t know. He seemed pretty weary. Their actions will show you if somebody really wants a fight. You got myself, I am a Jersey boy, born and raised. Ricky is a Jersey boy. You want to come over from Ireland and talk your talk and make a name for yourself. You have to get through the younger Jersey by before you get to the big dogs. I feel like they fed him to the young by and he wasn’t successful. You never know how somebody will react to a loss like that. He does have the tools to bounce back. I don’t think it’s the end of Gallagher but you have to see the game for what it is. It’s not all about talking, you have to back it up.”