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Bellator 195’s Leandro ‘Simple Man’ Higo aims to script Hollywood ending for his family

Leandro Higo
Leandro Higo
Bellator MMA

Bellator 195: “Caldwell vs. Higo” takes place this Friday night (March 2, 2018) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., featuring a main event between Darrion Caldwell (11-1) — who will be making his first-ever Bantamweight title defense since defeating Eduardo Dantas last year against — against Leandro Higo (18-3).

Higo first made his name in Bellator by taking Dantas the distance in a non-title fight, which the judges decided he lost by a narrow split decision. That made him a credible challenge in a future title fight, a right that he asserted by defeating Joe Taimanglo (the only man to ever defeat Caldwell).

In an exclusive interview with MMAmania.com, Higo answered questions about Bellator 195’s main event bout this weekend (special thanks to Matheus Aquino for the translations).

To start, I asked Higo how his training camp has been leading up to this Friday’s title fight.

“My training camp has been great. After my last fight I knew I would most likely fight a wrestler next, so I spent the two months in Arizona with Henry Cejudo, his team Fight Ready and our coach Eric Albarracin improving on my wrestling. After that I returned to Pitbull Brothers in Brazil to finish the last seven weeks of my camp.”

He predicted correctly as Caldwell faced Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 184 and out-wrestled him to claim the gold. Having missed weight for his own title shot at Dantas, Higo explained that there were difficult circumstances leading up to that fight.

“My weight is coming down well and I believe I won’t have any issues. I made the championship limit on my last fight already to prove a point. The Dantas fight, I was called last minute and I had been treating an injury before, and the medicine made me retain a lot of liquid, so I was much heavier than my usual weight. Also, I was supposed to have two extra hours after the weigh ins to cut weight and I was counting on that, but the commission didn’t allow me to do so.”

In fairness, Higo did come in as a late replacement for Caldwell, so we have to give him some benefit of the doubt. He’s also confident that he was the more impressive man in the non-title fight.

“I thought I won two rounds and I don’t understand how the judges scored it for him. Someone told my manager that as he was the champion and made weight, close rounds should be scored for him, but that’s not how judging works. You should score it by what happens without any extra factors. Also the whole situation of not making weight and embarrassing myself and costing that opportunity got to me and I ended up not being my best out there. I still think I was the better fighter. ‘Dudu’ ran all the time and I connected (with) better shots than he did.”

Higo is even sporty enough to offer a rematch to Dantas should he claim the world title.

“Sure, if he gets back on the win track and Bellator believes he deserves it, the champion always have to face the number 1 contenders. But that’s not a fight I’m seeking. In my eyes I already beat Dantas, I want to clean the division, so if Warren gets past Taimanglo I’d like to face him next.”

We’ve talked about the past and the future, but let’s get back to the present. Higo says his training has taken him to the next level in preparation to face Darrion Caldwell.

“Everything (has improved), especially my wrestling, but I also focused in improving every area of my game and adding new tools to be a better fighter. I trained in the US for two months and I also had coach Eric Albarracin and Henry Cejudo helping me in Brazil for the last month. I had some other great sparring partners like Patricio (Freire) and other teammates with very good takedown skills.”

“Pitbull” is happy with the treatment he’s received from Bellator MMA.

“The treatment is great, the production is outstanding and the pay is changing my life. Becoming their champion will be a milestone that will grant me the possibility to achieve everything I’ve dreamed of.”

Higo has been dreaming about being a world champion for a long time, overcoming difficult circumstances in his early life to make it here today.

“I come from a humble family and have worked very hard to get here. We sometimes didn’t have food. My life story sounds like a movie and this fight is everything that I need for it’s happy ending and the start of a new chapter.”

The “happy ending” he dreams of does indeed sound Hollywood, enjoying the fruits of his labor with his family before the credits roll.

“I like to go out with my son, play with him, go to the movies, the beach. I’m a simple man, I like to be surrounded by friends and family. They are the reason I do this, I want to be able to provide to my son and my family a better life than what I had.”

Obrigado “Pitbull” — we look forward to your bout on Friday night. Complete coverage of “Caldwell vs. Higo” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

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