Derek Campos believes all the pressure is on his opponent at Bellator 138.| Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Bellator MMA lightweight contender Derek Campos is days away from the biggest fight of his career, and he knows it.
Campos is an underdog headed into Friday’s Bellator 138 matchup with former champion Michael Chandler, and that’s precisely where he wants to be. Chandler is the most accomplished, and arguably the most talented fighter he’s faced, but Campos says he has the recipe to hand the Missourian his fourth consecutive defeat. Campos acknowledges that Chandler is the best fighter he’ll have faced to this point, but that’s about it.
“I think he’s the best fighter I’m going to fight to date,” Campos told Sherdog.com this week, “but I don’t think he’s the toughest guy I will have faced. I think there are a few other tougher guys out there that I can fight, but it’s just about figuring out the strategy to beating Chandler. I feel like I have all the tools to do it.”
When pressed about what it is regarding Chandler’s style that leads “The Stallion” to believe that he’ll be victorious, Campos stated that others before him already laid the groundwork for beating the man once considered among the absolute best at 155 pounds.
“I think his game was figured out, really,” he said. “It was figured out by Eddie Alvarez and Will Brooks. Chandler really has one style, and that’s pretty much 100 miles per hour, in your face and pure, brute strength. It’s really just wrestling and power punching. Alvarez and Brooks figured out how to wear him out, and that’s how they beat him. They strategically broke him down.”
Though Campos is quick to point out that he doesn’t expect a carbon copy of the Chandler who has been coming up short in his most recent battles inside the Bellator cage, he’s confident about what type of Chandler will show up. On one hand, Chandler could be super-aggressive in an attempt to turn around his unfortunate ways, but Campos also thinks Chandler could play it safe, to limit his mistakes. With that said, Campos revealed, he’s planning for a hybrid of the two.
“Considering the circumstances, that he is on a three-fight losing streak, I think he’s going to be somewhere in between,” Campos stated. “He doesn’t want to lose again. It’s a tough place to be when you’re on a losing streak. You don’t want to lose, so you’ll be cautious, but then you also don’t want to be too cautious where you can throw the fight away. It’s tough to predict what type of Chandler will show up but I expect to see a new Chandler when we fight. I expect something different.”
Campos believes he has the advantage because he has learned how to deal with losses better than Chandler. The Texan has lost more times in the pro ranks than Chandler, but Campos has never suffered back-to-back losses at any point in his career. Chandler, on the other hand, has not won since tasting defeat for the first time, and Campos believes he knows why.
“There has always been a hole in my game somewhere, and when I’ve lost, it’s because of that hole,” he revealed. “I have always gone back and figured out what that hole was and filled it. Whether it’s standup, wrestling, jiu-jitsu or whatever, I try to be the best possible fighter I can be. Each fight that I’ve lost I learned that there was something I needed to work on so I needed to make myself a hundred times better so I could win my next fight.”
Campos also mentioned that he has decided to switch up his main training and has been working with his team at home in Lubbock, Texas. The decision, he said, has allowed him to be more relaxed, which is what he needs in order to have his hand raised Friday night.
“I’m going into this fight as relaxed as possible,” he remarked. “There’s no real pressure on me because I’m not the one with something to prove. I’m going to showcase my skills and my abilities, which I believe will lead me to win. I’m training at home and it’s relaxing me; there isn’t the stress like before. [Chandler] is the one with all the pressure, not me.”