Eduardo Dantas has had his hand around the throat of Bellator MMA’s 135-pound weight class for the better part of six years and shows no signs of relinquishing his grip anytime soon.
Dantas will defend his bantamweight championship against Darrion Caldwell in the Bellator 184 main event this Friday at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The 28-year-old Nova Uniao standout has rattled off four consecutive victories since his October 2014 loss to Joe Warren -- a run of success that includes a majority decision win over the self-professed “Baddest Man on the Planet” in their Bellator 166 rematch. Dantas last competed in a non-title affair on April 14, when he was awarded a split decision against an overweight Leandro Higo at Bellator 177. He owns a 10-1 record inside the promotion, having established himself as one of its keystones.
Ahead of his latest title defense, here are five things you might not know about Dantas:
1. Few know what it is like to walk in his shoes.
One of four men -- Warren, Zach Makovsky and Marcos Galvao are the others -- to have held the Bellator bantamweight title, Dantas is the only fighter to win it twice.
2. A self-inflicted miscue resulted in his being knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“Dudu” suffered his first professional defeat in September 2007, when he was disqualified due to illegal soccer kicks against Aritano Silva Barbosa at a Cassino Fight event in Manaus Brazil. Dantas was 2-0 at the time.
3. Only quality opponents have managed to corral him.
Dantas’ three legitimate defeats have come against Warren, Tyson Nam and Masakatsu Uedea. Those three fighters own a cumulative record of 55-19. Only Nam managed to stop the Brazilian, as he authored a stunning 96-second knockout against Dantas in 2012.
4. His name already holds prominence in the Bellator record book.
A protégé of Andre Pederneiras, Dantas ranks first in the promotion in title fight wins (five), third in title fight appearances (six) and ninth in victories (10). He won the Season 5 bantamweight tournament, as he defeated former EliteXC champion Wilson Reis, Ed West and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Alexis Vila in a memorable two-month window.
5. He was a legitimate phenom.
Dantas made his professional MMA debut at a Shooto Americas event in Rio de Janeiro on March 24, 2007, less than two months after he celebrated his 18th birthday. He went on to win five of his first six bouts -- the loss to Barbosa was the only defeat -- before laying claim to the Shooto Americas 132-pound championship by submitting Luis Alberto Nogueira with a second-round armbar at Shooto Brazil 9 in November 2008. Dantas was 19 years, nine months and 26 days old at the time.