Born and raised in Rahway, New Jersey, Caldwell competed in wrestling, football, and baseball at Rahway High School. Caldwell was a two-time All-Region football player, but had his most success on the wrestling mats; he had a record of 146-4 in high school, and was a three-time state champion.
Caldwell continued wrestling at North Carolina State University, and during his true freshman season his record was 20-6. Caldwell missed becoming an All-American by one match, and had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of the school. In 2007-2008, Caldwell went 36-5 and finished in fifth place in the nation, earning All-American status. In 2008-2009, Caldwell went 38-1, and became national champion by defeating 2008 national champion and Dan Hodge Trophy winner, Brent Metcalf, 11-6. Caldwell was named most outstanding wrestler of the national championship tournament, and his only defeat was by injury default. Off the back of this performance, Caldwell was invited to attempt to join the senior-level Freestyle Wrestling world team, despite having little experience in the different style of wrestling. Caldwell finished in third place at the world team trials, and defeated the reigning Olympian at the weight class along the way. In the offseason Caldwell suffered a series of devastating shoulder injuries, which required surgery and forced him to redshirt the 2009-2010 season. Caldwell returned to action midway through the 10-11 year, and was undefeated in 15 matches. Caldwell was the number one seed for the 2011 national championships, but unfortunately suffered yet another shoulder injury in the second round match, which ended his college career. Caldwell finished his collegiate career with a 109-13 record, with 58 victories coming by a pin. Caldwell attempted to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, but the string of injuries left him outside of his top form. Caldwell was eliminated in round three of the final U.S. Olympic trials qualifier, and then decided to pursue a career in MMA. He is the current Bellator MMA bantamweight champion
Mixed martial arts career
Early career: Legacy Fighting Championship
Caldwell made his MMA and promotional debut against David Armas at Legacy FC 14 on September 14, 2012. For the majority of the fight, Caldwell was able to control the fight on the ground, mounting and taking Armas’ back several times. He won via unanimous decision.
In his second professional fight, Caldwell met Quaint Kempf at Legacy FC 16 on December 14, 2012. He won the fight via TKO after dropping Kempf with a left hand and unloading with a series of punches on the ground.
Caldwell next faced Gerzan Chaw at Legacy FC 21 on July 19, 2013. He won the fight via unanimous decision after three rounds.
In his third appearance for the promotion, Caldwell faced Anthony Dizi at Bellator 130 on October 24, 2014. He won the fight via unanimous decision. He later stated in an interview that he plans to move down to the bantamweight division.
In his highest profile fight to date, Caldwell faced former two-time Bellator champion Joe Warren in the main event at Bellator 151 on March 4, 2016. Caldwell dominated the fight, winning via technical submission due to a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Caldwell then faced Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 159. He lost the bout via guillotine choke in the third round.
Due to Taimanglo missing weight in their first bout, Caldwell faced Taimanglo in a rematch in the main event at Bellator 167 on December 3, 2016. He won the bout via unanimous decision.
After avenging his first loss, Caldwell was set to face champion Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator bantamweight championship at Bellator 177 on April 14, 2017. An injury, however, forced Caldwell out of the bout. Thus, he was replaced with Bellator newcomer Leandro Higo. Dantas would go on to defeat the latter via split decision in a non-title affair.
Return to featherweight
Article source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darrion_Caldwell