Bellator 151: "Warren vs. Caldwell" comes to WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., this Friday night (March 4, 2016), airing live on Spike TV.
In the main event of the evening, the self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet," Joe Warren, collides with undefeated (8-0) prospect, "The Wolf" Darrion Caldwell, in a key Bantamweight battle. Caldwell has been quietly creeping up the ranks since his Bellator debut in 2014. He delivered on his promise to defeat the highly touted Rafael Silva last May, then earned Friday's fight with a first round submission of Shawn Bunch.
Coincidentally, Warren won the Bellator 143 main event that night. It may not have been obvious that night because Caldwell fought on the "Prelims" undercard, but his record put him on a perfect collision course with Warren.
Caldwell recently spoke with MMAmania.com about the large opportunity looming in front of him this weekend, one that potentially looms larger with "Galvao vs. Dantas 2" scrapped.
Indeed, "The Wolf" was not pleased with that news given he's potentially next in line for the champion.
"It's just disrespect. These guys sign on the dotted line and then back out, leaving guys like me who really want this title shot and really know who the real champ is in this division. It's just bullshit to me. Either way, they're going to get it. It's just a matter of time until I get my hands on these guys. If they want to bullshit and battle around each other and tiptoe then do it on someone else's clock, don't do it on mine. Right now this window of opportunity is mine and they're fucking with it."
His displeasure is understandable given that this isn't the first time Marcos Galvao and Eduardo Dantas were unable to have a scheduled fight. Does Caldwell believe an interim title is now in order?
"I think this fight with me and Joe (Warren) should be the interim title. If these guys don't want to fight each other then leave it to the guys who want to go out there and perform and bang. I think this fight right here should have the interim title on it. That belt should go around my waist come March 4th. These guys have proven every time they fight Joe they can't get it done, and now they're tiptoeing around each other. The title fight to me is Joe Warren."
Caldwell is almost correct about the resume of "The Baddest Man." He's even (1-1) against Galvao, but unbeaten against Dantas. In fairness, you can say Warren holds wins over both the current and former champion.
"The Wolf" knows Warren's pedigree and that's the reason he's so hungry to tear into him on Friday night.
"It's not going to be a three way bout with those three guys any more. I'm going go in there and solidify my spot as the No. 1 guy in this weight class, with or without the belt. I do believe that this fight after my hand is raised that the interim belt should go around my waist but, whatever they want to do. The fans know (and) the organization knows who's the best in this weight class. They can pussyfoot around if they want to."
Caldwell isn't taking anything lightly about his opponent. He may feel he's the best Bantamweight in Bellator today, possibly even an uncrowned champion at this point, but Warren has already achieved the same things he wants.
"He's definitely the best wrestler I've faced. I haven't competed against any world champs. Anybody who won a world championship in the sport that I gave 15-20 years of my life to (means) I haven't competed against anybody of his caliber. I do believe he's the best wrestler I've fought -- even more-so the best fighter I'm going to face. This fight is a title fight to me."
If there's going to be a changing of the guard in the Bantamweight division, Caldwell is 100 percent convinced he's the man to usher in a whole new era.
"I look at this fight as the young bull versus the old bull. We're definitely not walking down that hill, we gonna sprint down that hill. We all know what happens when a young bull is hungry and really ready."
In his pre-fight interview, Warren vowed to "put a hole through" Caldwell, which he, naturally, thinks thinks is highly presumptuous.
"He's gonna have to catch me first! A moving target is a hard target to identify. I'm not going to be in there standing still so if he wants to put a hole through me he's going to need a big-ass gun. He's going to need like three shotguns coming from different angles."
With or without a shotgun blast or a world title belt both of these men are fired up about Bellator 151. Nonetheless, Caldwell couldn't resist taking a few shots at Conor McGregor, too, who is set to battle Nate Diaz in the Welterweight main event of UFC 196 on Saturday night.
"I want to fight Conor McGregor. He talks so much shit and he has never faced a guy like me -- a guy who's going to get in his face and not back down from him. (I'd) put him on his back and beat the living shit out of him. I want that fight with Conor -- eventually."
Since cross promotional fights are highly unlikely, we'll stick to Warren for now, but Caldwell couldn't let things go though without a parting shot toward Dantas and Galvao.
"I know Joe Warren's in trouble, and I don't know what's going on with Dantas and Galvao, but I think they're both pussies if you ask me."
Perhaps Caldwell is taking a few plays from McGregor's playbook with that one. Meantime, look for "The Wolf" to bring his anger and his adrenaline to WinStar World Casino this Friday night.
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.