Darrion Caldwell is 6-0 in MMA. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Darrion Caldwell entered mixed martial arts with lofty expectations. And although he owns an unbeaten record through six professional appearances, “The Wolf” says he is only scratching the surface of his potential.
“I don’t feel like I’ve shown anything much of what I’m capable of,” Caldwell told Sherdog.com. “I’ve maybe showed about 35 percent of what I have in me. I think once everything is put together, it’s gonna be put together well, and you guys are going to see a well-rounded MMA fighter.”
After winning his first three Bellator outings at 145 pounds, Caldwell will make his bantamweight debut against Rafael Silva at Bellator 137 on May 15. As a former 135-pound title challenger, Silva represents the most significant challenge of Caldwell’s career to date.
“He’s a world class fighter,” Caldwell said of Silva, who has lost just once in his last 15 bouts. “Beating a guy like this would be a good indicator that I’m ready to be a world champion.”
Caldwell already has a championship pedigree. The 27-year-old Rahway, N.J., native was a gifted and creative amateur wrestler, winning a national championship at North Carolina State University in 2009. However, a torn labrum derailed his final year with the Wolfpack as well as some legitimate Olympic hopes.
Today, Caldwell says there are no lingering effects from the injury, which required multiple surgeries to fix. Considering the struggles he endured upon initially returning to the mats during his senior season, there was some question as to whether Caldwell would ever return to peak athletic form again.
“Oh man, it was devastating. It’s a place I never want to be again,” he said. “I’m here to make a statement as soon as possible and show that I’m a world class fighter as well.”
Caldwell isn’t kidding when he says he wants to make a statement as soon as possible. The Pinnacle MMA representative has a fairly specific timetable for when he’d like to be atop the division.
“In the next year I want to be a world champ. I want to take this fight and use this as a platform to prove that I am one of the best fighters in the world,” he said. “I’m ready to take the next level and be Bellator’s guy as their world champion.”
Caldwell isn’t one to shy away from expectations. He acknowledges the comparisons to the likes of Jon Jones and Phil Davis and believes that he could be a mixture of both. The pressure of entering MMA as a decorated wrestler with a unique set of skills could be viewed as a burden. Caldwell doesn’t look at it that way.
“I don’t really look at it as pressure. I look at it as people knowing what I can do and knowing that I can compete at the highest level,” he said. “There’s no pressure. It’s just another day at the office for me.”