Bellator is hanging onto one of its top homegrown talents.
Darrion Caldwell announced Monday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that he has signed a long-term contract extension with Bellator MMA. The deal spans seven fights. Caldwell said he had one fight remaining on his previous contract with the promotion.
"Just believing in what they had in mind and their plan for me, that's the biggest thing," Caldwell said. "It's bigger than me. I know they have a vision. Even though I have a vision as well -- my vision is to be the world champ -- they have a vision on how to put me in a position to make sure I maximize everything outside of the cage. And so, I feel like we touched on a lot of subjects there. I think we've got a star in the making."
The undefeated Caldwell (9-0) is coming off a dominant first-round submission win over former two-division champion Joe Warren in March. The New Jersey native has finished four of his six fights under the Bellator banner. Caldwell, 28, said he could have fought out his contract and went into free agency like many fighters are doing now, but he was happy with where he was.
"After putting the pieces together, Bellator jumping on board, it's time to go ahead and get married," Caldwell said. "It is what it is. You feel me? I'm in it for the long run."
Caldwell, a former NCAA wrestling national champion at North Carolina State, should be in line for a title shot after the bantamweight title fight between champion Marcos Galvao and Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 156 on June 17. "The Wolf" said it was "very, very, very possible" he'd be fighting for the title before the end of the year, but he wouldn't mind getting in the cage once more before then this summer.
The thought of fighting top bantamweights like Dominick Cruz, T.J. Dillashaw, Urijah Faber and Aljamain Sterling in the UFC did dawn on Caldwell. But he believes he has everything he needs with Bellator.
"I know I can beat those guys," he said. "And hopefully one day I'll get a chance to see them. Maybe they'll come over to Bellator one day and realize the grass is greener on the other side over here.
"Whether it's the UFC, Bellator, anywhere in the world, there's not a 135-pounder that can beat me."
Caldwell, who is currently training at Power MMA in Arizona, said in two years it won't even be a debate that he's the best bantamweight in the world. He plans on taking on all comers Bellator has to offer.
"Bellator has taken good care of me," he said. "They take great care of their athletes. I couldn't be any happier right now."