Darrion Caldwell is focused on reclaiming his bantamweight title.
After Caldwell lost back-to-back fights to Kyoji Horiguchi for the RIZIN title and to lose his Bellator belt, he moved up to featherweight to take part in the grand prix. He beat Henry Corrales by decision and then submitted Adam Borics, but lost in the semis to AJ McKee.
After the loss, Caldwell planned to drop back down to bantamweight and will do so on Friday night at Bellator 259 against Leandro Higo.
“Obviously, this is where I won the belt. I wanted to be the champion at 145, but after the grand prix, I believe I’m a more complete fighter at 135,” Caldwell said to BJPENN.com. “I’m not taking shortcuts in training camp, I obviously do well at both weight classes, so I might as well go back down and get the belt back.”
Caldwell and Higo have already fought with Caldwell submitting him in the first round to defend his bantamweight belt. For the former champ, he knows he is much better than Higo and expects to put him away early again, but says he may drag the fight out to play with the Brazilian.
“I took him out in the first fight in under three minutes and I think I can do the same here. Once I put my hands on these guys at bantamweight, it is a different game,” Caldwell said. “I’m also faster than this guy and once I put my hands on him, it will be a wrap. The question is, how long do I want this fight to last? Do I want to play with him or take him out early, it will be a decision I make on Friday.”
If Caldwell does submit Higo, he believes he should earn a title shot to try and reclaim his belt. However, he says there are a lot of fun matchups for him in the top-five of the division and is eager to return to bantamweight.
“In a perfect world, a win and a stoppage win catapults me into a title shot. I’m a former champion, and there are some worthy opponents at 135 for me now,” Caldwell said. “I’m working toward getting my belt back and honestly, the last time I was there, I got complacent, but now I’m hungry and back to fight Pettis and all the new guys in the top-five. Honestly, after I dispose of Higo, I don’t see any other fight for me than the title fight against Pettis.”
If Caldwell does get a title shot against Sergio Pettis, he knows he would be able to use his wrestling to dictate the pace and likely get the stoppage win.
“Pettis looked good against Archuleta but I like the matchup. Pettis is good everywhere, but I’m the better wrestler and I know I could take him down and beat him up on the ground,” Caldwell concluded.
Do you think Darrion Caldwell will beat Leandro Higo again at Bellator 259?