Derek Anderson: I Know How to Beat Paul Daley
Derek Anderson has spent his MMA and Bellator careers respectively, fighting in the lightweight division. On November 4th, he moves up to the welterweight division to take one of the most recognizable and dangerous names in the organization, Paul Daley.
The welterweight fight is scheduled to take place on the main card at Bellator 163, from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main card will be shown live and exclusively in Spike TV with the main event featuring Liam McGeary defending the Bellator light heavyweight title against Phil Davis.
Mike Heck of the SFLC Podcast caught up with Anderson ahead of the fight to talk about his career.
Anderson (14-2-1) is 26 years old and has been training for about seven years. Contrary to what you hear from a lot of fighters, MMA wasn’t something Anderson was actively seeking. “When I was younger, I got in a lot of fights, and I chilled out eventually,” Anderson said. “By the time high school was over, I wasn’t really doing anything with my life. My dad wanted me to do something else a little more active because teenagers can go down the wrong path pretty easily, not that I was heading that way. I had started watching the ultimate fighter back then, I think it was the Kimbo (Slice) season, so I decided to try out MMA. I hopped in a gym checked it out, I was pretty good, actually gifted. It was a lot of fun, just kept training and kept training and all of a sudden I was beating everybody up and making money off of it.”
Anderson spent the early stages of his professional career primarily in the Xplode Fight Series organization, where he compiled an undefeated record (9-0-1). He got the call from Bellator to take on the well known Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 98 in September of 2013, coincidentally in the same building he will take on Daley. After a ‘KO of the Year’ candidate against Brandon Girtz at Bellator 113 five months later, Anderson came right back the following month against submission specialist Marcin Held, and suffered the first defeat of his career.
“That’s my fault! He caught me, and i tapped out,” Anderson said. “I was thinking about the ankle lock all night, he threw the triangle up and I wasn’t expecting it. I think I was doing pretty good beating him up, it was my fight, I’d take him any day now. It is what it is. Everyone loses. It didn’t weigh on me so much. The interview for that fight, I said if he gets a hold of my ankle, I’m going to let him break it and I’m going to beat him up anyway. He did get my ankle, he did break my ankle, then he threw the triangle up and wasn’t expecting that. So I was out for a little while with an ankle injury after that. If anything, the time off effected me more than the fight itself. I’ve had a few stints of time off in my career and time off isn’t always a bad thing sometimes you come back real hungry.”
Anderson bounced back with a win over Danny Navarro at Bellator 132, before tasting defeat for the second time against undefeated prospect Brent Primus, a controversial split-decision Anderson believes should have never happened.
“I was kind of sick for Brent Primus and I think I won that fight anyway, and he knows I won.”
Despite the set back, Anderson has won his last two fights, including another victory over Patricky Pitbull at Bellator 147 late last year. He returned in a co-main event fight at Bellator 160 in late August and got a hard fought victory over 26 fight veteran, Saad Awad.
Robert DeNiro in the movie ‘A Bronx Tale’ said “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” On the flip side, in this crazy sport of MMA, there may be nothing scarier for opponents then realized potential.
“I’m just starting to realize my potential,” Anderson said. “When I was younger, I was fighting and I was good. In the cage, I’m not thinking, I’m kind of going. I’m a good fighter, it ends up being good and I always end up winning. But back in the day, I used to hope to win. Now, I’m a lot more experienced. I know exactly what I need to do. I’m going to make sure that I go win. There’s no one going to give it to you, I’m not hoping to win out there, I’m going to make myself go win. I know how to win, I know how to beat Paul Daley. It’s going to happen!”
Anderson is making his way up the Bellator Lightweight rankings rung by rung. When looking for his next opponent to stay active, a problem arose. With Josh Thomson out, and an upcoming Lightweight title fight on November 19th between champion Michael Chandler and Benson Henderson, there was nobody available in the division to fight. A new opportunity, and a new weight class knocked on the door. Anderson didn’t hesitate to answer it.
I just wanted to stay active after the last fight with Saad,” Anderson said. “I told them to give me another fight. I asked Bellator who they had for me, they said I’d have to wait until February for ‘The Punk’. I wasn’t trying to wait that long. They offered me this welterweight fight and I looked at them and I said ‘hell yeah! I can beat that guy’.”
Daley (38-14-2) has been competing at a high level for a long time. He has fought in the UFC, Strikeforce, BAMMA and a slue of other major promotions. After a cup of coffee with Bellator, a 1st Round TKO over Rudy Bears in July of 2012, Daley returned to the organization last February and extended his Bellator winning streak to 4. That streak ended in July with a one-sided Unanimous Decision loss to now title challenger Douglas Lima.
One thing Anderson does know, is that this is a fight he can win. One thing he doesn’t, is how he will do it.
“Every time I do a prediction it’s wrong,” Anderson said. “I’m just going to be the better fighter, and I’m going to go beat him. I’ve got plenty of tools for him, and he doesn’t have enough for me. It’s my win! It could be a decision, I could knock him out, I could choke him out.”
After Bellator 163, he will have lightweight and welterweight on his resume. Is Anderson looking to stay there, go back to lightweight or will he bounce around and go after the biggest fights he can?
“That’s about right, no one has really hit the nail on the head yet, but you did right there,” Anderson said. “Ideally, I’d go back to lightweight and get a title shot. I am coming back to welterweight eventually. I just want to make some money, I’m a fighter. I think I can beat a lot of guys out there. It depends on what opportunities present themselves.
“I know that I was real close to a title shot anyway at lightweight,” Anderson continued. “I took this fight because I didn’t want to wait. A win over Paul Daley couldn’t hurt. I’m definitely going to stay right up in the mix at lightweight, and when I come back down, hopefully I have a title shot within a fight or two after that.”
If Anderson’s plan comes to fruition and he gets the shot at the belt, the question remains, who will be the champion? Michael Chandler? Or Benson Henderson? That question will have an answer in the late hours of November 19th. Anderson thinks he knows the answer.
“I think Henderson will probably win that one.”