Bellator 238: Darrion Caldwell Feels He Has a Mental Edge in Featherweight Grand Prix

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Darrion Caldwell
Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi Credit: Bellator MMA

Bellator’s featherweight grand prix continues this weekend at Bellator 238, with former Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell facing Hungary’s Adam Borics. It’s the second fight of the quarterfinal round, and the winner will move on to face A.J. McKee next.

Caldwell earned his spot in this round thanks to a hard-fought win over Henry Corrales, who coincidentally will also be fighting on the Bellator 238 card.

“I felt like I was right back where I wanted to be,” Caldwell told Cageside Press when asked what he took away from his opening-round win against Corrales.

After the win, at the Selection Show, Caldwell selected a date in March for his next fight. This unique twist on the tournament format had fighters choosing dates and opponents for their next fight in the grand prix. Caldwell selected third, and his reason for choosing March was simple. “I was just giving myself the most time off to train that I could,” he told us.

However, a wrench was thrown in the works when champion Patricio Pitbull, selecting last, was able to select any date and opponent he saw fit. Pitbull opted to face Pedro Carvalho in March. That meant Calwell was bumped to January, against Adam Borics.

“It was actually a surprise. I knew he could do that, but I didn’t know he was going to pick Carvalho,” revealed Caldwell. “I thought he was going to pick me.” After all, Caldwell had called him out during the selection show, and was clearly the bigger name.

Maybe Pitbull preferred that date. Perhaps the champ simply felt Carvalho was the easier option.”I mean he didn’t pick me. If he felt like he could beat me, that it would be an easier fight against me, then he would have picked me, you know?” was Caldwell’s response to that suggestion.

The selection show itself was something Caldwell enjoyed, regardless of who and when he’s fighting. “I like that type of entertainment,” he said. “It makes it fun for fighters, it makes it fun for fans. To be able to have that draw was cool.”

While Caldwell is now set to face an undefeated prospect in Borics, to him, it doesn’t really matter who he’s fighting. “No, not really honestly,” he said when asked if he had any preference in opponent, outside the champion. “I’ve got my eyes on the title. It just so happens that I’m in a tournament, which works to my favor. It’s what I grew up doing.”

With his wrestling background at North Carolina State University, not to mention attending the Olympic trials, Caldwell would certainly seem to have an advantage in the grand prix.

“Yeah, it’s definitely a different mental edge,” he agreed. “I’ve seen that design over and over and over. I see my name on the championship line over and over and over. This time will be no different.”

In way of a prediction against Borics, Caldwell said simply that “I think it’s going to be a short night.”

While it’s not as if he’s fighting later in the night — the grand prix is spread out over the course of a year, after all, “the less damage you take, the better,” he admitted. “But I’m just going to go in there and do what I gotta do.”

One thing Caldwell is enjoying of late are the big market fights he’s been a part of. New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles. “Absolutely, I’m loving it. Honestly I’m enjoying it. January 25, I’m going to go out there and put on a performance,” he promised. “That’s all I can say. It’s going to be my night January 25.”

Darrion Caldwell faces Adam Borics in the co-main event of Bellator 238, this Saturday, January 25 at the Forum in Los Angeles (Inglewood), California.

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