Derek Campos reveals defeat at Bellator 226 would have ended his career: ‘I would have hung it up’

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Mixed martial arts is a sport that gives its athletes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and featherweight contender Derek Campos revealed he competed against Daniel Straus at Bellator 226 with his fighting career in the balance.

Campos (20-9 MMA, 9-7 BMMA) defeated former champion Straus (26-9 MMA, 12-6 BMMA) via a dominant unanimous decision at the SAP Center to progress to the quarterfinals of the Bellator featherweight grand prix, but said that the win not only saw him progress in the tournament, it also secured his decision to continue his career as he snapped a three-fight losing skid that left him contemplating retirement.

“The last fight, (Pedro) Carvalho whupped my ass and I just had to wake up, man,” he told reporters backstage after his victory. “For me, it was do or die. This was the chopping block. And, honestly, if I would have lost this fight, I would have retired. I would have hung it up.

“But I told myself that I didn’t want it to be over. I love this. I love the fight game, I love being a part of it, it’s my life. I chose this life. Back in June of 2007 I said: ‘You know what? This is the journey for me,’ and here I am. The journey continues and I only want to get better and get that belt.”

Campos took his opportunity when he pounced on a Straus slip as he appeared to struggle after a kick attempt. It opened the door for the 31-year-old to take the fight to the mat, where he proceeded to dominate the former champion for the majority of the fight.

“I wanted to keep it straight down the middle with the punches and I was going to try to light him up with some kicks, do some combos, bring something new to the table,” he said. “And after that first exchange, that first sequence, I just jumped right on top of him and the whole gameplan changed. Just outwrestle him, smother him, try to grind him, ground and pound him.

But despite having the clear upper hand on the ground, he admitted Straus was simply too tough to submit.

I tried to get the submission but he’s relentless. He told me himself: ‘You may beat me, but you’re not gonna finish me!’” he said. “I tried to set up a couple of kimuras and keylocks (and) I tried as hard as I could for the arm triangles, but unfortunately I couldn’t get it. Dan’s dreads, man, they must have given him some cushioning or something! He’s relentless and he wasn’t going down without a fight.

“I just tried to make it play out the way I wanted it, and I did. I sent a message to everybody else in this tournament that if I want to impose my will on you, it’s gonna happen.”

Now with his career back on track and a spot in the grand prix quarter-finals secured, Campos started to look forward to how he would approach the K-1 style quarterfinal draw, which is set to take place after the second set of first-round bouts are complete at the end of the month. And he said that if there was an opportunity to go straight for the gold in his next bout, he wouldn’t hesitate.

“Oh, absolutely!” he said. “Who wouldn’t want a title shot next? But it’s all about strategy, it’s all about game-planning and figuring out who you want to take on next. The end goal is to become the champion, so if the next fight means I’m fighting for the championship and becoming the champion, that means holding onto that belt and staying the champ.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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