Darrion Caldwell (6-0) is yet another world class wrestling talent to sign on with Bellator. Finishing his collegiate career with an outstanding 109-13 record, Caldwell gave his best efforts to make the 2012 Olympic wrestling team. However, nagging shoulder injuries kept him out of his top performance at that time. After enough recovery time and rehabilitation, Caldwell turned his efforts towards MMA where he has racked up a 6-0 record. Now taking his fourth fight in Bellator, Caldwell will make his debut at bantamweight against veteran Brazilian Rafael Silva (22-4) at Bellator 137.
SF: What did you study at North Carolina State other than crushing guys on the mat?
Caldwell: Africana studies. It explores the history of African people and all aspects of life. Whether it be Africa, America, Mexico, it focuses on the overall concept of what it means to be African. Where our roots came.
SF: Given your grappling background, do you see yourself competing in Metamoris or Grapple at the Garden in addition to MMA ?
Caldwell: Yeah definitely. I want to be able to get in the mix of professional competition wrestling but I’m still waiting for a call for that. Whenever that opportunity presents itself I’ll be excited to do that. I want to be able to showcase my skills wrestling-wise.
SF: Do you find that having a strong wrestling base puts you miles ahead of most competitors who have just done MMA training?
Caldwell: It definitely does. I’ve been in positions thousands of times that other guys have not. I know how to deal with those situations. Having so much competition and mat time helped me in that aspect.
SF: In the transition from Olympic training to pursuing MMA, do you find it more exciting or more overwhelming to have to learn so many new techniques?
Caldwell: I think that transition is a lot more exciting. I’m like a sponge right now, I’m soaking it all up. When I learn new techniques it’s so cool, it’s a great thing.
SF: What new developments have you seen in martial arts training? Are there any new popular techniques or methods?
Caldwell: People want to see KO’s and finishes so, my goal is just to do as such. Find a way to finish him and have fun doing it.
SF: MMA is a full competition business but also an entertainment business. What’s it like to be in that new environment?
Caldwell: It’s definitely cool you know? In wrestling, most wrestlers are more on the humble side. They talk a lot about the time and dedication they put into their sport and coming over to MMA you hear a lot more trash talking and it’s pretty funny. It’s something that comes with the sport.
SF: In everything that goes into MMA, what is the most unsung part about being a fighter? What’s a difficult component that doesn’t get a lot of attention?
Caldwell: MMA is a growing sport, probably one of the newest. I think the athletes should be taken better care of after their careers. What happens after you’re done fighting and your money has run out? What can you do with your career afterwards? To me, I want to be able to retire and apply what I’ve learned in my MMA career to my next career. After putting my life and everything on the line in the cage I’d like to be able to work with wrestlers and MMA fighters.
SF: Anything else you’d like to include for our readers?
Caldwell: I’d just like to thank everyone who’s been behind me throughout my journey. My wrestling and MMA career through ups and downs. I want to thank god and my family, coaches and teammates for all the work they put in to me.
Catch Darrion Caldwell rumble Rafael Silva at Bellator 137 on Friday, May 15th at 9/8C on Spike TV.