Darrion Caldwell wants to be the best bantamweight in the world.
Caldwell scored his first title defense this past Friday night, submitting Leandro Higo in the first round at Bellator 195 live on Paramount Network.
The win improved the 30-year-old to 12-1 overall and 9-1 with Bellator. Caldwell was a standout wrestler at NC State before moving into MMA.
While those who follow the sport and Bellator know the talent Caldwell is, he believes the rest of MMA – and more specifically UFC bantamweights – need to remember the name.
“There’s not that much respect here for guys with Bellator,” Caldwell told MMAjunkie. “Everyone thinks the UFC is the NFL of MMA. Whenever you’ve got UFC guys – like a T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt – as a champion, they’re always going to be like, ‘You’re not going to be better than this guy because he’s in the UFC.’
“But (expletive) those guys. I’ll beat them up too.”
Following his stunning quick submission of Higo, Caldwell had an encounter with Patricky and Patricio Freire, teammates of Higo.
“These guys want to fight me,” Caldwell said of the brothers. “Patricio, he wants to fight me. I don’t mind beating up the ‘Pitbull’ brothers, but it’s got to be worth my time.”
Caldwell’s lone career loss came to Joe Taimanglo, a defeat he avenged before winning the belt last year from Eduardo Dantas. In the main event of Bellator 195, Taimanglo topped Joe Warren. Could the two be in for a third meeting?
“‘Baby Joe’ don’t want these problems,” Caldwell said. “Joe doesn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t go all five rounds. He gasses out. He’s going to belt. ‘Baby Joe’ is like some chocolate.”