Ahead of Bellator 228 bout with Henry Corrales, former 135lb champ Darrion Caldwell calls opponent a “killer,” confronts Patricio Pitbull.
Los Angeles, CA — Bellator MMA hosted a media day for it’s upcoming west coast cards, notably Bellator 226 and 228, on Wednesday. Among the many names on hand to speak to the press, former Bellator bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell — now set to enter the promotion’s featherweight grand prix.
Caldwell has drawn Henry Corrales as his opening round match-up, and the former title holder is not sleeping on his next opponent. Even if other things, like being reminded he’s now at 145lbs, still take him by surprise.
“For you to say featherweight, it definitely hit me off-guard,” Caldwell said in an exclusive chat with Cageside Press. “But I have fought featherweight six times, so I feel comfortable being at 145.”
When he got word he’d be in the tournament, “I was at Magic Mountain on Monday, about to get on Goliath, and my manager called me and told me I was going to be in the pool of 18.”
Like facing his fears with a roller coaster, Caldwell has opted to face his fears by entering into the deep pool that constitutes the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. First up, “OK” Corrales.
“When you talk about Herny Corrales, you’ve got to understand, you’re dealing with a killer,” Caldwell told us. “I’ve sat next to him. I watched his fight, last fight, cageside and I literally thought he killed his opponent. That’s not a guy you want to fight. So for me to be able to have this opportunity, and test myself against the best guys in the world, it’s everything.”
And Caldwell knows that plenty of eyeballs will be on the tournament. “I don’t think there’s going to be anything more talked about, more hyped up, than this grand prix going into 2020,” he said.
In the end, however, there’s one driving force behind the move. “I’m the bantamweight king. I am the 135lb Bellator champion,” said Caldwell. “I’m just here for a million dollars.” That, of course, is the prize money waiting at the end of the grand prix.
As for his path through the grand prix, “my dream goal is to win this fight, but whoever wins the title fight, whoever wins between [Juan] Archuleta and [Patricio] Pitbull, that’s my goal,” he said. “I don’t want to be here fighting all these 145’ers if I don’t have to. I would rather just get to the belt and make it mine. For now, I’m just hoping I can get to Pitbull as soon as possible.”
As soon as possible was almost too soon, mind you. Pitbull, seated across from Caldwell during our interview, didn’t take kindly to being talked about. Caldwell wasn’t about to shy away. And so the pair traded barbs, with Caldwell eventually restrained and cooler heads prevailing. Confrontation is nothing new for Patricio Pitbull, who sometimes seems to have more enemies than friends (Michael Chandler, A.J. McKee). But the confrontation goes to show just how explosive this grand prix could be.
Bellator 228 takes place September 28, 2019 at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA.