Phoenix, AZ — Former Bellator MMA bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell, who returns to action this Saturday at Bellator 273, was notably absent when the organization announced the participants for its upcoming 135lb grand prix.
Caldwell believes he’s the still best bantamweight in the world, especially in Bellator. But being excluded from the bantamweight grand prix admittedly was a shock. At least initially, he told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s Bellator 273 media day.
“Initially I was shocked because they announced it, and I didn’t even know I was not going to be in it. It was a shocker to even get the lineup,” Caldwell explained. “But I hadn’t performed at 35, bantamweight for a while. And my last bantamweight win was about 2018. So it is what it is.”
That said, Caldwell believes Bellator has gotten the ball rolling in the bantamweight division, filled out the weight class, and made it a household name, which “is why they can do that tournament.” And that, added Caldwell, is something that “started with me. I do believe I’m the standard here at Bellator in terms of the bantamweight division. It’s only going to get better from here. With a guy like me sitting on the outside looking it, outside of the rankings, you gotta expect it to be a strong division.”
At Bellator 273, Caldwell (15-5), who returned to 135lbs last year after competing in Bellator’s featherweight grand prix, welcomes former UFC fighter Enrique Barzola to the promotion. Barzola posted a 6-3-1 record in his old promotion, and Caldwell knows the Peruvian fighter will test him.
Caldwell simply expects to pass that test, and not allow an outsider to come into his home and put a beating on him.
“He’s strong, he’s a strong guy, he’s going to be a guy that comes forward. He’s going to test me, and put my ability to the test,” predicted Caldwell. “I’m going out there to just dispatch this guy. He’s not in my league pretty much is what it boils down to. He doesn’t have the attributes to hang in there with me, so I think this guy’s going to be done in one.”
Watch the full Bellator 273 media day appearance by Darrion Caldwell above. The event takes place this Saturday, January 29, 2022 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ.