Bellator 186’s Tywan Claxton Talks His Pro Debut, NCAA, and Meeting Rumble Johnson

Tywan Claxton makes his pro MMA debut at Bellator 186
Edinborough’s David Habat, left, wrestles with Ohio’s Tywan Claxton during their 149-pound quarterfinal match Friday, March 20, 2015, at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Speaking of fighting for free, the record books show Claxton at 7-0 as an amateur (Claxton noted that he actually went 8-0, with one fight not recorded). Pro or not, that’s an impressive record, but what was the deciding factor in going pro?

“He beat up a fifth grade school teacher. He didn’t beat up anybody important.”

“The deciding factor for me was when guys didn’t want to fight me anymore. I’d sign up for a fight, the guy would back out, the replacement would back out, another guy would back out. I’m like ‘well damn, I’m sitting here in practice taking more damage than I do in these actual amateur fights.'” For ‘Speedy’ that meant it was time to move on.

Coming into Bellator as a hot rookie prospect with zero professional fights but a fair amount of hype, the early comparisons to Aron Pico with perhaps inevitable. From the get-go, Claxton has called his fellow prospect out, utilizing his rather hilarious Twitter account to get his message across. At one point, he labeled Pico the “Sage Northcutt of Bellator.” With Pico picking up a win in his sophomore outing in Bellator, has Claxton’s opinion of him changed any?

“Absolutely not” he emphasized. “He beat up a fifth grade school teacher. He didn’t beat up anybody important. I said this before, if you can throw thirteen punches against a guy, you’re both against the cage and neither one of you drop? He shouldn’t have been in that cage. That’s my opinion. He landed one good punch. It happens — every blind duck finds an egg once in a while. That doesn’t change my opinion on him at all.”

That’s not to say that he wouldn’t accept a bout with Pico were it handed to him.

“I’d take that fight November 4. If they wanted to give me the fight November 4, I’d take that fight November 4, because I know it’d be an easy payday for me.”

That said, Tywan Claxton first has November 3 to look forward to, and a date with Jonathan Bowman. Bowman, a Division I wrestler and kickboxer who has trained with Serra-Longo, hasn’t fought in MMA for a couple of years, but won his lone pro fight at Bellator 125. What has “Speedy” seen of him, and how does he see them matching up?

“I’ve seen his kickboxing fights, and the big difference is, we’re not fighting in those 16 or 14 or 10, whatever ounce gloves he fights in in kickboxing. We’re not fighting in them” he told us. “He’s never fought anybody like me, as fast as me, and he’s never been hit as hard as I’m going to hit him.”

“As far as his wrestling is concerned, there’s levels to wrestling, and he’s not on my level” the OU alum continued. “He’s 33 years old, and that was ten years ago that he wrestled. Imagine all the things you can do in the course of ten years. That’s the difference between being able to get medicare and not being able to get medicare. That’s a big difference.”

Leading into his debut, Claxton’s confidence is high. “I’m not worried about his wrestling, and I’m not worried about his kickboxing, I train with better kickboxers than him. I’m not overlooking him, I think it’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m not worried. There’s not a part of me that’s like ‘oh man, I can’t believe they gave me this guy.'”

So how does he see the fight going? Does his visualize things, or just go with the flow?

“I don’t really visualize, I just visualize the end. I’m the type of guy that visualizes the walkout, and visualizes the end and the celebration afterward. I kind of just like the flow, where ever my body takes me, that’s what I know and that’s how I like to fight.” Not that he isn’t focused. “I’m a repetitive guy, so I’ll write down the same line in a journal a thousand times, and say ‘the fight will end this way, the fight will end by stoppage, the fight will end by stoppage.’ That’s the kind of guy I am.”

On November 3, Claxton obviously hopes the flow takes him to a big debut win. And after that, any plans for a callout?

“If they give me the mic, I’m always looking to say something special. So if I get the mic, I’ll call out somebody, I don’t know who it’s going to be yet” he said. Then added “it won’t be Pico, because he hasn’t answered, and I gave him enough fame and talk, and they already hyped him up enough.”

“It’s going to be a big dog, it’s going to be a big fish, I’m going to call out somebody big and they’re going to have no choice but to take the fight. It’ll be a stepping stone for me.”

Bellator 186 takes place November 3 at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State in University Park, PA. The card airs at 9PM on Spike TV in the U.S. and Canada, with the preliminary card airing online via


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