BURBANK, Calif. – Former Bellator bantamweight titleholder Darrion Caldwell may have lost his belt to Kyoji Horiguchi, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still consider himself the champion.
Since his losing to Horiguchi at Bellator 222 in June, Caldwell (12-3 MMA, 9-3 BMMA) has voiced his frustrations at the bout’s judging. In a post-fight video posted by Bellator, a furious Caldwell slapped the promotion’s camera on his way back to the locker room.
At a Bellator media day held Wednesday, an enthusiastic Caldwell did not shy away from projecting his confidence in saying he didn’t lose. The New Jersey-born fighter deemed himself the face of the Bellator 135-pound division and made it clear he plans on earning the same notoriety at 145 pounds.
“I’m still the champ at 135,” Caldwell told MMA Junkie. “I’m the Bellator 135-pound champ. That’s not going to change. I’m still the champ. I’m just here to collect another belt at 145. Then I’ll go back down and give Horiguchi another rematch and be a two-time right here. It is what it is.
“When you think of Bellator 135-pound division, you think of me. You don’t think of Horiguchi. You don’t think of (Ricky) Bandejas. You think of Darrion Caldwell. That’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to be. I am the 135-pound champ. I’m up here at featherweight to collect another belt.”
One of 16 men who will participate in Bellator’s featherweight grand prix tournament, Caldwell will compete at Bellator 228.
The event will take place Sept. 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card will stream live on DAZN after prelims on MMA Junkie.
“When I got the call, I was going to be one of the sixteen men inside the tournament, I was about to jump on Goliath,” Caldwell said. “I figured, what could be worse? Goliath or jumping in the sixteen-man tournament? So, I said, ‘(Expletive) it. I’m going to do them both.’
“I’m looking forward to being able to showcase my skills at 145. Coming off two losses to Horiguchi, obviously it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Just losing my belt right now. It’s like a double-edged sword. Is it good or is it bad? It’s neither. I’m here at 145 to come collect the belt and then go back to 135 and get my strap my back.”
Standing across from Caldwell in the opening round will be a training partner of his, Henry Corrales. Caldwell voiced the utmost respect for upcoming opponent, which he said, was only amplified after Corrales (17-3 MMA, 5-3 BMMA) knocked out Aaron Pico earlier this year.
“We’ve trained together for two-and-a-half years,” Caldwell said. “When you talk about Henry Corrales, you’ve got to understand this is a killer. This is a guy who when I was watching his last fight cage side, I thought he killed the man. It wasn’t a guy who I was like, ‘Alright, I want to fight this guy next.’ It just happened to play out this way. I think in order for me to be in this tournament, that was the name given… When you talk about Henry Corrales, you know you’ve got to expect fireworks regardless of who he’s fighting. You’ve got to respect him.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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