10 Best MMA Featherweight Prospects of 2014
#2: Darrion Caldwell
Darrion Caldwell is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the fight game today. Winner of the 2009 NCAA Championship at 149 lbs., Caldwell never quite reached that level again after dealing with a severe shoulder dislocation. He attempted to make the Olympics in 2012, but after not qualifying, he set his sights on a future career in MMA. Caldwell, who wrestled at North Carolina State, began training at Power MMA Team alongside Ryan Bader, C.B. Dollaway, and Aaron Simpson. He quickly signed on with Legacy FC, where he won his first 3 career fights. In 2013, Bellator announced that they had signed Caldwell to a long-term deal. Bellator has thus far brought Caldwell up slowly, wisely matching him against fighters with a similar amount of cage experience. Caldwell debuted against Lance Surma, submitting him in the 1st round and is set to compete once again just 6 weeks later. Caldwell’s takedowns, grappling control, and athleticism are unquestioned. He is a cut above nearly every Featherweight prospect in these areas. His striking and overall comfort-ability in a cage is what will determine Caldwell’s long-term success. Caldwell is a risk-taker in the cage. He flies in with knees, kicks, and punches from all angles. His submission game looks to be fast-developing and all signs are pointing to him having a solid career if he stays focused. Caldwell is in no way ready to compete with Pat Curran or Patricio Pitbull, but he should be able to work up to the tournament level within the next couple of years.