Tywan Claxton is one of the more interesting characters in Bellator, with a diverse skill set – and he feels that should make him someone Bellator wants in their upcoming featherweight grand prix.
Chicago, IL — Featherweight Tywan Claxton (4-0) broke onto the scene with a flying knee finish in his debut fight at Bellator 186 in 2017. While Claxton was a virtual unknown at the time, almost instantly, the ‘Air’ Claxton name was born. He returns at Bellator 221, taking on James Bennett. The bout will feature on the event’s main card, streaming live on DAZN.
“Another main card fight. I expect nothing less,” Claxton said of his place in the big show, speaking with reporters including Cageside Press on Wednesday. “You throw a flying knee and they have to put you on there just in case you pull something else off.”
Claxton, a Division II All-American in college and undefeated amateur fighter, has spent his whole career to date in Bellator. The reason is simple. “Money talks baby. I’m not trying to fight for chump change.”
Of course, after his spectacular debut in 2017, there’s the need to live up to that flying knee. “Maybe this fight I’ll be able to pull off some spinning something. I have to top RD the GOAT. That’s what I have to top.” That would be a reference, of course, to Raymond Daniels, who pulled off a mind-blowing knockout at Bellator Birmingham a week ago.
Bellator 221 is a tentpole event for the promotion, which suits Claxton fine. He feels at home under the big top. “I’ve been used to it. It’s the same thing with wrestling. You take it in stride and you go. And when it’s time, I like to say I shine best under the lights,” he said. “The bigger the lights, the better I am.”
“When you think about it, I started off at the Blackzilians so I started off training with cameras in my face every single day,” he continued. “Watching guys do media interviews and things of that nature. It’s becoming second nature, it’s just part of the game.”
On training with Blackzilians out of the gate, Claxton said that “I think it prepared me for media. It prepared me for fighting and everything that comes with it. The media circus, the problems of a professional fighter, the ups and downs. You name it, I’ve seen it or been through it or experienced it through other guys.” Claxton sees it as a positive, and feels that experience helped a lot.
Thanks in part to comments made by Michael Chandler regarding drug testing and USADA, the subject of stricter testing in Bellator was a frequent topic at the Bellator 221 media day. Claxton is all for more testing. “I don’t care, you can take my piss right now,” he exclaimed. “I think that there should be some type of regulation because everybody’s not honest. There’s some guys and I ain’t calling no names but they’re looking a little too thick for this division. Who knows? Maybe in that featherweight tournament, they’ll bring out some testing and see how the cards fall there.”
Curiously, Cris Lencioni made similar statements on Wednesday, so Claxton isn’t alone.
The 145lb division, of which Claxton is a member, is poised for greatness in Bellator. It will be home to the promotion’s next grand prix, and Claxton wants in. “I better be in that tournament. It’s a million dollars. I need to be in that tournament,” he said. It’s clear a lot of fighters are stoked for the upcoming grand prix, expected to start this fall. “Say no more. I’m ready for it. Anybody that they can bring, anybody that’s in this weight class, I can strike, I can wrestle, I’ve got a nice BJJ background and I’ve got some nice submissions and chokes that no one’s seen yet. I’ve got some striking skills that no one’s seen yet. I’m way more than a wrestler. There’s no fake confidence here. It’s all real.”
But while the championship would bring glory, “at the end of the day, a belt is cool, but money talks. It’s what makes the world go round.” Claxton, to that end, is all about the Benjamins. “I don’t need to fight for a belt. If I get the belt, great. But at the end of the day, I’m fighting to take care of myself, take care of my family, invest in some of the apps I’m building. Different things of that nature. A belt’s a belt. It’s a piece of hardware. That sh*t’s gonna sit on the shelf. Money. You can do a lot with some money.”
“There are two different ways you can approach this game,” he continued. “‘Let me play safe, safe, safe, fight all the right people and get to the belt.’ Or you can be like, ‘I’m going to fight whoever they throw my way as long as that check clears and those zeros are behind it.’ I’m about those zeros. I’ll fight anybody as long as there’s money behind it.”
Claxton feels, however, that if he does get into the grand prix, he brings something special to the table. “I’m the only fighter that’s fighting on this level that’s a software developer. I can bring that entire tech community over to watch some fights.”
“I’m not telling anybody how to market me,” he said, “but I’m just saying, you throw flying knees, you build apps, you know, might be a person to put into a featherweight tournament to promote the sport, promote the organization.”
As to which is the job, and which is the hobby, Tywan Claxton said that both are hobbies. “My only job is to continue to grow. That’s the only thing I see as a job, whether it’s as a software developer or whether it is as a fighter. Growth is the most important thing for me.”
Watch the full Bellator 221 media day scrum with Tywan Claxton above!