Today, I spoke with 10-fight UFC veteran Enrique Barzola ahead of his promotional debut against former Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell.
Barzola did express a lot of excitement for this matchup: “I want to fight a hard fight with Darrion Caldwell. Darrion Caldwell is (an) amazing fighter, he’s been the champion, it’s a pro for me. I’m gonna show in Bellator my net worth for this company. But I’m excited for this opportunity bro.
He continued: “I’m really excited for this fight because Darrion Caldwell a tough fight, (and) tough fighter. But I’m ready to destroy him bro, (I) really (am).”
Please be sure to check out the full interview here.
This fight is to take place at Bellator 273, on January 29, 2022, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Barzola hasn’t fought since March 14 of 2020, at UFC Brasilia, an event headlined by future-current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and new Eagle FC product Kevin Lee.
That was our first event at the very start of Covid-19. Barzola battled to a draw against Rani Yahya that night, the last fight on his contract, before signing with Bellator in his free agency.
The Peruvian standout has been signed with the promotion since last summer, so it’s great to see him finally get his first match up. He did state that ‘these (two) years, I was training a lot’, both down in Peru and at AKA, so he’ll be ready for someone of Caldwell’s caliber.
After winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America II, Barzola went on to do some pretty remarkable things.
In just ten fights with the UFC, he secured 42 takedowns, which is more than the likes of former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who had 13 bouts at 145 lbs, and former three-time title challenger, perhaps the best fighter ever to have never won a belt, Chad Mendes, who had 14 UFC bouts at 145 lbs.
That’s just astounding, especially for a South American, where wrestling isn’t very prevalent. Mendes and Edgar were both NCAA Division I All-Americans, so to surpass both in a shorter amount of time, it’s something to tip your hat to.
The only men with more takedowns than himself in the UFC’s featherweight division are also NCAA All-American’s, Dennis Bermudez, who wrestled Division I, and Darren Elkins, who wrestled Division II, both of which also had many more bouts at 145 lbs.
Now, Barzola gears up to not only face a former world champion, but an NCAA Division I National Champion as well.
Caldwell has fought twice since we last saw Barzola compete, dropping back-to-back defeats in the process to new Bellator featherweight champion AJ McKee (McKeeotine), and then Leandro Higo (SD), someone he’d submitted three years prior.
Barzola too is winless in his latest appearances, losing to undefeated prodigy Movsar Evloev (UD), and going to a draw with a real legend in Rani Yahya.
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.