Former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell is focused on getting past A.J. McKee at Bellator 253 so he can get to the prize: Patricio Freire.
Caldwell is driven by animosity built over trash talk with the Freire brothers, and he anticipates he’ll be seeing the younger “Pitbull” brother at the end of the Bellator featherweight grand prix. Not only that, he believes he’ll hold the belt when the dust settles.
“I’m too long and rangy for him,” Caldwell, who faces McKee in the headliner of Thursday’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena, told MMA Fighting during a virtual media day. “I can do what I want with him. If I use my wrestling, it’s going to be a real short night for him. I think I can beat ‘Pitbull’ anywhere, honestly.”
And if Patricky Freire, wants to avenge his elder brother’s loss, Caldwell is happy to oblige.
“He can get it, too,” the ex-champ said.
According to Caldwell, the rivalry started when he beat Leandro Higo, a teammate of the “Pitbull” brothers, and things escalated from there. This past fall, Caldwell confronted the Brazilians backstage at a Bellator event, and security had to get involved.
“When I took Leandro out, [Patricio Freire] had a bitter taste in his mouth,” Caldwell said. “It seems like whenever the Pitbulls lose, everybody wants to fight him. I beat up the little cousin, and the older cousin wants to fight and talks sh*t. Me, you talk sh*t, we’re going to fight.”
Caldwell is of course focused on beating the undefeated McKee first. But from what he’s seen of Patricio “Pitbull,” he isn’t impressed. Freire advanced to the semifinals this past week with a knockout of Pedro Carvalho at Bellator 252.
“The fight went just how I thought it would go,” Caldwell said of the result. “He’s a powerful guy. Pedro stands right in front of you – straight up. It went just how I thought it would.”