EXCLUSIVE | Darrion Caldwell Predicts Sergio Pettis To Win Bellator Grand Prix

Darrion CaldwellFormer Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell expects Sergio Pettis to still have the belt at the end of the upcoming Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix. Caldwell is set to face Enrique Barzola at Bellator 273 to begin his 2022 calendar year. He’s coming off of a tough loss to Leandro Higo at Bellator 259 last […]

Darrion Caldwell

Former Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell expects Sergio Pettis to still have the belt at the end of the upcoming Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix.

Caldwell is set to face Enrique Barzola at Bellator 273 to begin his 2022 calendar year. He’s coming off of a tough loss to Leandro Higo at Bellator 259 last year by a split decision.

Caldwell is looking to get back in the thick of things in the bantamweight division, but he’ll have to wait after he wasn’t selected for the upcoming Grand Prix. The tournament will begin later this year and feature big names such as Pettis, Kyoji Horiguchi, Patchy Mix, James Gallagher, and Raufeon Stots.

Caldwell, a former champion, is still going to pay attention to the tournament despite not being selected for it. During an exclusive interview with LowKickMMA, Caldwell explained why he thinks Pettis will come out on top in the Grand Prix.

“I think the champ is gonna stay the champ,” Caldwell said. “That fight with Horiguchi, I felt like Horiguchi was winning the fight. But Pettis’ timing was good from Round 1 on. And he stayed in it. I think Pettis is going to win the tournament unless I get a shot. He’s a hard puzzle. It’s like a 1000 piece puzzle that Pettis had to deal with Horiguchi.”

Darrion Caldwell Is Hoping To Get His Bellator Belt Back

Caldwell earned the Bellator title back in 2017 against Eduardo Dantas. He would go on to successfully defend it against Higo before eventually losing it to Horiguchi.

Caldwell then moved up to 145 pounds to enter the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, eventually losing to AJ McKee. He also told LowKickMMA that he isn’t ruling out a move back to featherweight in the future.

Caldwell has always been one of the biggest names in the promotion, and he’s looking to prove in 2022 that he’s still a legitimate contender at 135 pounds. It’ll all begin at Bellator 273 against a tough prospect in Barzola.

What is your prediction for the Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix?

Drew Dober Explains The “Deciding Factor” In Dariush/Makhachev Fight

UFC lightweight Drew Dober has given a breakdown of the upcoming UFC Fight Night main event between top-five 155lbers Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev.

Having shared the Octagon with both men, Dober is in a unique position to provide his thoughts…

UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Makhachev, Drew Dober

UFC lightweight Drew Dober has given a breakdown of the upcoming UFC Fight Night main event between top-five 155lbers Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev.

Having shared the Octagon with both men, Dober is in a unique position to provide his thoughts on the highly anticipated matchup, which is expected to see the victor advance to challenge the champion later in the year.

Dober faced Dariush back in March 2019. The Iranian-born American broke the Nebraska native’s three-fight win streak with a second-round triangle armbar submission.

Almost two years to the day later, Dober faced surging Dagestani Makhachev at UFC 259. Like against Dariush, Dober was submitted, that time with a third-round arm-triangle choke. Those defeats represent two of only four submission losses in Dober’s 35-fight MMA career.

In an exclusive interview with MMA News, Dober discussed what he expects to happen when the pair collide next month. The 33-year-old also spoke about his own return to action against Ricky Glenn in March, his current contract status, and how long he intends to continue fighting for.

Dober: My Heart Says Dariush, My Head Says Makhachev

Since a 2015 KO setback against Adriano Martins, Makhachev has looked unstoppable. During his active nine-fight win streak, the 30-year-old has defeated Nik Lentz, Arman Tsarukyan, Davi Ramos, and Thiago Moisés. Most recently, Makhachev brushed past the challenge of Dan Hooker with a brutal first-round kimura in Abu Dhabi.

While he boasts more defeats on his record, Dariush’s recent form has been equally strong and his current seven-fight win streak is arguably more impressive than his upcoming opponent’s run of triumphs. Since defeats to Edson Barboza and Alexander Hernandez, Dariush has recorded highlight-reel KOs of Drakkar Klose and Scott Holtzman and shot into contention with decision wins against Diego Ferreira and Tony Ferguson.

With that in mind, Dober believes Dariush will give Makhachev more problems than he’s ever faced in the UFC. The promotional veteran expects the February 26 main event to be decided by how well Dariush can implement his strategy against a patient Makhachev.

“I think Beneil is going to give Islam the most problems,” Dober told MMA News. “It’s a super-tough fight for both guys. I think one of the cool things with Beneil is his strategy. He implements a good strategy and he’s able to adjust his strategy per round, and he’s a finisher. He can put you away with his hands or a submission.

“I think the biggest takeaway is Beneil’s a risk-taker, and Islam is not. Islam will do everything he can to win the long game,” added Dober. “Beneil, he takes risks; sometimes it works out in his favor, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think that’s the deciding factor; Beneil’s strategy and his risk-taking ability… I feel like the determining factor is going to be Beneil’s strategy.”

When asked for a prediction, Dober told MMA News that his heart and head are going different ways. While he would love to see Dariush have his hand raised, he acknowledges that the safer pick would be Makhachev.

“It’s so hard. Like, my heart, here at home, my wife and I, we’re going for Beneil Dariush. We want him to win, man. I’m behind him wholeheartedly. But as far as being a betting man, I mean, you see less mistakes from Islam, and so Islam is the safest bet. But the heart’s pulling for Beneil,” concluded Dober.

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While Makhachev might be the safer bet, that certainly won’t stop Dober and his wife from cheering Dariush on from home.

Who do you think will have their hand raised on February 26, Beneil Dariush or Islam Makhachev?

Continue Reading Drew Dober Explains The “Deciding Factor” In Dariush/Makhachev Fight at MMA News.

Curtis Blaydes: I’m Still Better Than Derrick Lewis

UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes believes that, despite his knockout loss last year, he’s still better than Derrick Lewis.

Blaydes, a perennial name in the group of elites at heavyweight, had his title charge stalled in 2021 at the hands (o…

Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes

UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes believes that, despite his knockout loss last year, he’s still better than Derrick Lewis.

Blaydes, a perennial name in the group of elites at heavyweight, had his title charge stalled in 2021 at the hands (or sole right bomb…) of Lewis. In the main event of UFC Vegas 19, the pair collided with a likely championship opportunity on the line.

Heading into the contest, Blaydes carried the momentum of a four-fight win streak that included triumphs over former UFC champion Junior dos Santos and former Bellator titleholder Alexander Volkov. “The Black Beast,” meanwhile, had knocked out Alexei Oleinik in his prior outing.

Despite starting well, Blaydes was rendered unconscious in the second frame after changing levels straight into a brutal uppercut. With the victory, Lewis joined Francis Ngannou as only the second man to beat Blaydes and went on to challenge for interim gold against Ciryl Gane.

Now, in an exclusive interview with MMA News, Blaydes has looked back on his 2021 setback, his hopes for 2022, the heavyweight debut of Jon Jones, and revealed who hits harder out of Lewis and Ngannou.

Blaydes Believes He Has “More Skills” Than Lewis

While Lewis was dominated by Gane at UFC 265 last August, Blaydes got back on track a month later at UFC 266. Against another KO artist in Jairzinho Rozenstruik, “Razor” shut down the power opposite him, as he’d intended to do seven months earlier against Lewis, and secured a comfortable unanimous decision victory.

With his position in the top five cemented and his name back in the title conversation, Blaydes is ready to make another surge to the top, one he believes shouldn’t have been stalled by “The Black Beast.”

Speaking to MMA News’ James Lynch, Blaydes claimed he is “still better” than Lewis despite the result in February 2021. Ultimately, the 30-year-old believes he boasts more skill than the powerhouse, who Blaydes says defeated him the only way he could, a one-and-done KO blow.

“I don’t lose to bums, and he ain’t a bum. I know that. I think, stylistically, I should have won that fight,” said Curtis Blaydes. “He won the one way he could win. I took a bad shot, he caught me, but otherwise, apart from that, because I’ve re-watched the fight, he lost that first round, he was on his way to losing that round, and I rushed it and paid the price. That’s always gonna annoy me because I do believe, I know I lost, but I do believe I’m still better than Derrick Lewis. I think I have more skills than him, more ways to win. I’m better athletically. He’s just really good at what he does, which is getting the knockout.”

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Having knocked out Chris Daukaus in December, Lewis will once again fight down the rankings in his next bout as his search for “fun” and pressure-free matchups continues. At UFC 271 next month, he’ll face fellow entertaining hard-hitter Tai Tuivasa.

Meanwhile, Blaydes will seemingly need to wait for some other fights to play out before his next opponent is set. Targeting an April return, “Razor” believes he could face the loser of this weekend’s unification showdown between Ngannou and Gane.

Who would you like to see Curtis Blaydes enter the Octagon with next?

Continue Reading Curtis Blaydes: I’m Still Better Than Derrick Lewis at MMA News.

EXCLUSIVE | Jack Shore Hopes To Bring The UFC To Wales

Jack ShoreUFC bantamweight prospect Jack Shore is hoping he’ll be the man that will eventually convince the MMA leader to hold an event in Wales. Shore is set to face Timur Valiev on March 19 on a show that is expected to take place in London. During a recent interview with LowKickMMA, the 26-year-old admitted fighting on […]

Jack Shore

UFC bantamweight prospect Jack Shore is hoping he’ll be the man that will eventually convince the MMA leader to hold an event in Wales.

Shore is set to face Timur Valiev on March 19 on a show that is expected to take place in London. During a recent interview with LowKickMMA, the 26-year-old admitted fighting on an event in the English capital is as close to home he can hope for, at least for now.

“It’s the closest we’re going to get to a hometown fight at the minute is London,” Shore said. “We are a bit of a way from me being able to call for a Cardiff card.

Ultimately, Shore is confident that he’ll be able to convince Dana White and the UFC to make the trip to Wales, although he understands that there are a lot of obstacles to overcome before that can happen.

“I think at the minute there’s three of us from Wales in the UFC,” Shore said. “I’m in a position, at the minute, where I’m the closest to those rankings and fighting those big names and getting that chance to finally break through into the mainstream a little bit.

Jack Shore Wants To Follow In The Footsteps Of Conor McGregor & Michael Bisping

“It is obviously something I want to do,” Shore added. “At the minute, venue wise in Wales. We’ve got an indoor arena but it only seats like 8,000 and we’ve got The Millennium Stadium which seats 80,000. So we’re a bit at two ends of the scale at the minute. If they can knock us up a 20,000-seater, then I can start to get in Dana (White’s) and Sean (Shelby’s) ear.

“I’d love to just fight on a UFC card in Wales,” Shore concluded. “To be the guy that brought it to Wales like, how Conor (McGregor) brought it back to Dublin or how (Michael) Bisping took it to Manchester, would be insane. It would be a dream come true. Who knows what the future holds. That would be a dream of mine you know, never say never. It’s not too far away. It’s just a case of the right timing and things falling into place.”

Do you think Jack Shore is the man to drag the UFC to Wales?

EXCLUSIVE | Brandon Royval Willing To Serve As UFC 270 Backup

Brandon RoyvalUFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval is ready and willing to serve as the backup to the Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy if anything happens ahead of UFC 270. Royval is just days removed from an impressive win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC Vegas 46, earning a split decision victory. It was a close fight […]

Brandon Royval

UFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval is ready and willing to serve as the backup to the Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy if anything happens ahead of UFC 270.

Royval is just days removed from an impressive win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC Vegas 46, earning a split decision victory. It was a close fight from start-to-finish, but Royval’s pace as the bout went on turned out to be the difference.

During an exclusive interview with LowKickMMA’s James Lynch, Royval revealed that he quickly turned his attention to what could be next for him.

“We’ll try to celebrate next week,” Royval said. “I’m trying to stay on weight, trying to stay focused. I know it’s not likely that someone’s going to drop out of the title fight. But, if there is going to be someone who drops out, it’s probably Figgy. If Figgy drops out, I know I’m the alternative. There’s no other option really. I’m just staying close to weight and waiting for a call. They told me to be prepared in the next day or two when they go into Anaheim and do their test weights and see where they’re at from there. Might as well try to stay focused and kill two birds with one stone.”

Brandon Royval Is Ready For A Short-Notice Title Shot

Before signing with the UFC, Royval earned the LFA flyweight title after defeating Nate Williams for the vacant belt at LFA 79. He would go on to sign with the UFC just months later and win his promotional debut over former title challenger Tim Elliott.

Royval also holds a win over Kai Kara-France at UFC 253, before losing back-to-back fights to Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. The win over Bontorin keeps him in the title picture, and potentially gives him a title fight at UFC 270 if anyone withdraws.

The Moreno/Figueiredo trilogy is one of the most highly-anticipated fights to begin 2022, but Royval has the chance to save the fight if the UFC contacts him on short notice to fill in.

What were your thoughts on Brandon Royval’s performance at UFC Vegas 46?

EXCLUSIVE | Brandon Royval Willing To Serve As UFC 270 Backup

Brandon RoyvalUFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval is ready and willing to serve as the backup to the Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy if anything happens ahead of UFC 270. Royval is just days removed from an impressive win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC Vegas 46, earning a split decision victory. It was a close fight […]

Brandon Royval

UFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval is ready and willing to serve as the backup to the Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy if anything happens ahead of UFC 270.

Royval is just days removed from an impressive win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC Vegas 46, earning a split decision victory. It was a close fight from start-to-finish, but Royval’s pace as the bout went on turned out to be the difference.

During an exclusive interview with LowKickMMA’s James Lynch, Royval revealed that he quickly turned his attention to what could be next for him.

“We’ll try to celebrate next week,” Royval said. “I’m trying to stay on weight, trying to stay focused. I know it’s not likely that someone’s going to drop out of the title fight. But, if there is going to be someone who drops out, it’s probably Figgy. If Figgy drops out, I know I’m the alternative. There’s no other option really. I’m just staying close to weight and waiting for a call. They told me to be prepared in the next day or two when they go into Anaheim and do their test weights and see where they’re at from there. Might as well try to stay focused and kill two birds with one stone.”

Brandon Royval Is Ready For A Short-Notice Title Shot

Before signing with the UFC, Royval earned the LFA flyweight title after defeating Nate Williams for the vacant belt at LFA 79. He would go on to sign with the UFC just months later and win his promotional debut over former title challenger Tim Elliott.

Royval also holds a win over Kai Kara-France at UFC 253, before losing back-to-back fights to Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. The win over Bontorin keeps him in the title picture, and potentially gives him a title fight at UFC 270 if anyone withdraws.

The Moreno/Figueiredo trilogy is one of the most highly-anticipated fights to begin 2022, but Royval has the chance to save the fight if the UFC contacts him on short notice to fill in.

What were your thoughts on Brandon Royval’s performance at UFC Vegas 46?