At some point, Bellator realized that superstar collegiate wrestlers might make decent MMA fighters, so they started recruiting.
Darrion Caldwell fit that bill perfectly, and when they scooped him up back in 2014, he’d already had three fights in regional promotion Legacy Fighting Championship. That made Caldwell still somewhat unseasoned, but very much worth investing in.
So they did.
Caldwell tore through the first six fighters Bellator threw his way, each one getting progressively tougher until Caldwell was in the cage with former champ Joe Warren. Caldwell ate Warren alive, and Bellator finally had their star.
Unfortunately, the train went off the rails when for a bit when Joe Taimanglo tapped him with a guillotine, but a subsequent rematch put Caldwell on track. Then, at Bellator 184, Caldwell was given a crack at bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas, and like the wrestling stud he is, he made sure the Brazilian knew intimately what that canvas tasted like.
At Bellator 195 this Friday, Caldwell gets to defend his belt against Leandro Higo. Higo is 1-1 in the Bellator cage, but his last win was against Taimanglo, so I guess that warrants a crack at the title.
Here’s Bellator giving their 135-pound champ some love via a highlight vid.