Derek Anderson is far from a household name in Bellator MMA right now, but the 26-year-old lightweight might only be a couple wins away from becoming a much more well-known commodity.
The Team Xplode MMA representative will be gunning for his third consecutive victory when he faces Derek Campos at Bellator 170 in Los Angeles on Jan. 21. Anderson is 5-2 thus far during his promotional tenure, and his resume includes notable triumphs over former title challenger Patricky Freire (twice) and Saad Awad. A victory on one of Bellator’s most high-profile cards to date — headlined by Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz — can only bolster his profile.
“I think they’re starting to know who I am. Maybe I’m like a darkhorse or something like that. Or a gatekeeper. I don’t care. As long as they start calling me something,” Anderson told Sherdog.com.
“I feel like it’s my title shot very soon, if not next. And I want it. There’s no lightweight that’s going to beat me. In my eyes, I’m the man. I just need to make that known to everybody else,” he added. “I’m starting to get the recognition I deserve, biggest card of the year. I’m proud to be on it, and I appreciate the recognition.”
Anderson hasn’t competed since August after a proposed 170-pound clash against Paul Daley at Bellator 163 fell through when the British slugger wasn’t cleared to compete due to a difficult weight cut. While Anderson is relatively tall for the lightweight division at 6 feet, he doesn’t plan on any future ventures to welterweight until he reaches his goals at 155 pounds.
“I’m not in any hurry to get up there [170 pounds]. I’m just in a hurry to work hard. I want my belt. So I’ll get that, then I’ll be OK with moving up more permanently,” Anderson said. “If my body starts to grow and I can’t make that weight at lightweight, at least not pleasantly, then I’ll move up. But that’s after I get the title. I’ll make sure I stay small until then.”
Anderson says that he worked on getting bigger for the Daley fight, but he has been training diligently to slim down in preparation for his return to lightweight and doesn’t anticipate any issues with his weight cut.
“It’s not too bad. My body did get used to training big when I was training for Paul Daley, so it was a little bit harder this time to lean out on my same diet,” he said. “But I did it. It’s not too hard. I’ve got a good formula for it now. That’s a big deal. I felt healthy when I fought Saad Awad cutting to lightweight. I haven’t felt very healthy for a fight in a long time, and it almost felt like I had superpowers just to feel normal.”
Anderson still hasn’t quite reached his physical prime, so it’s possible that the best is yet to come. He admits to not being the type to use trash talk to boost his profile, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less confident than some of the sport’s most notorious self promoters.
“I think I can be the best in the world, the most known guy out there,” Anderson said. “Everyone is talking about Conor McGregor. I ain’t scared of Conor McGregor. Let’s fight right now. I’m not the guy who can talk like that and get my name out there, but I’m the guy who can fight like that. Whoever’s head I’ve got to take off put them in front of me, let’s go. Maybe I’ll keep my mouth shut and do the work.”