It wasn’t that far in the past where Derek Campos was at the end of his proverbial rope, a desperate man who needed a win more than anything in the world. He had lost two straight bouts – one by first-round knockout – and three of four overall. But at Bellator 149 in February, “The Stallion” toppled Melvin Guillard to get back on track.
It was a win that was critical for the Texan’s career moving forward. Had he lost that night in Houston, there’s no telling what would have happened. While it’s likely that he would still continue to fight, Campos would not have been a viable competitor unless he got his life organized, which is what he did before he took on Guillard.
“Those two losses were attributed to where I couldn’t balance out personal life and professional life,” Campos told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “I had some time to evaluate some things and I’ve been able to re-focus and re-dedicate myself as a fighter because, obviously, I wasn’t dedicated enough. But going into the Guillard fight, it was do-or-die for me and my newfound focus really showed that night.”
With a newfound vigor toward his MMA career, Campos can now put his energy toward an actual game plan, which will continue Friday night in one of the featured bouts of Bellator 161 in Cedar Park, Texas. Standing in front of him across the cage will be Djamil Chan, a lethal striker from the Netherlands that not too many people know a lot about.
“He’s not well-known but he is a dangerous striker,” he stated. “He trains with Melvin Manhoef, so he’s going to be a dangerous Dutch kickboxer. He’s tenacious, he’s explosive and that’s what I’m going to be looking for on fight night. Looking at Djamil’s style, it’s make for fireworks and people want to see exciting fights, so that’s what they’re going to get. I know what I need to do in order to break him.”
The natural inclination would be to suspect that Campos should shy away from standing with Chan and opt to take him down. Even though Campos has some solid striking and has a few stellar knockouts on his ledger, a striking battle with the Holland native might be a recipe for disaster. But Campos says he has no plan to shy away from his opponent’s strengths.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m willing to stand in there and bang with him. I’m not afraid of his kickboxing. This is MMA, not kickboxing, so if he kicks, I’m going to neutralize him. I’m going to put my boxing together and if I need to, I’ll take his ass down. He may be a good Dutch kickboxer, but I plan on using my striking to outdo his kickboxing and when I feel like the time is right, I’ll take him down. I want to break him on the feet and on the ground.”
Campos said he isn’t in the least worried about the hype that has encircled Chan coming into this fight. He bleeds like everybody else, he said, and he believes he has already seen some weakness in the Dutch destroyer.
“I feel like the mind game is there and I’m very good at reading people,” he said. “The last seven guys that he’s knocked out, they are not high-caliber fighters. They are not me. So, yeah, cool, you have all these knockouts so let’s see what you have on fight night. I feel as though all the pressure is on him and I’m looking to exploit that and break him.”