Bellator 236’s Derek Campos: “I’m the kind of fighter that can shut that game down”

Derek Campos Bellator MMA
Derek Campos Credit; Bellator MMA

Derek Campos takes on AJ McKee at Bellator 236. This bout marks the next portion of Bellator’s featherweight tournament. Campos vs McKee goes down Saturday, December 21, in scenic Honolulu, Hawaii.

Campos (20-9) has been a stalwart in Bellator MMA for several years now and looks to take out the undefeated, hotly discussed prospect AJ McKee. Campos covered a lot of territory when he spoke with us in the lead up to this grand prix bout (click the link for full audio).

Bellator 236

Campos is loving how he feels as a featherweight but he sees options for himself in several weight classes. “It was my second bout at 145. I feel good at 145, feel fast. Feel strong,” said Campos. “I’m happy at 145, 155, shoot I’ll even fight at 170. I’ll fight anybody at any weight. It doesn’t matter. Bellator asked me a while back about heading to 145 because I was always making 155 real easy.”

Campos is happy to be able to come back to Hawaii but as part of the co-main this time. The jovial vibe seems to stem from Campos getting a high-quality opponent who he’s excited to compete against. “I think his style is the evolution of MMA. He’s explosive,” observed Campos. “He will catch you if you’re playing in his range. I definitely respect it. I definitely admire it. At the end of the night, I’m the kind of fighter that can shut that game down.”

The last time Derek Campos and A.J. McKee were in Hawaii actually ties into this fight, and how the seeds were initially planted for the bout. As Campos recalls it, “Funny enough, we actually talked about fighting each other. I was the one that had proposed it. I was able to pick him as my opponent and here we are one year later.”

Fighting & Family

The training camp ahead of Bellator 236 has been going well for Campos, who has a couple of gyms to credit. Campos said, “I’ve been at Different Breed MMA… For Jiu-Jitsu, I cross-train over at a gym called Base BJJ.”

Campos’ family unit provides not only a great means of unwinding during hard camps. It also gives him that inspiration to push hard on those days where perhaps the inspiration isn’t organically there when waking up. “At the end of the night, this is my main means of providing for them,” Campos stated. “That’s food on my table for my family when in the cage. I’m going to get in there and bust my butt every time.”

The grand prix winner should be decided by the end of 2020 once the dust settles. For Campos, his Bellator journey has been one that dates back several years and Campos takes a noticeable measure of pride in that. Derek Campos stated, “I’m happy to be able to call Bellator my home. To be able to get out there and showcase my skills and represent for what Bellator MMA stands for.”