Derek Campos may not be the sexiest name in MMA, but after a vicious 2nd round knockout of former UFC vet Melvin Guillard last April, Campos has staked his claim as a contender in Bellator’s stacked lightweight division.
Campos is set to headline Bellator’s first international event in Italy against a familiar foe, Patricky Freire . The two were previously matched up in 2014, with Freire coming out on top with a second round TKO. However this time around, Campos feels he’s turned a corner as a mixed martial artist and is looking for retribution.
“Patricky is definitely patient … yet he’s explosive and has that knockout power.” Said Campos in an exclusive Fight House interview. “That’s what I have to look out for because that’s what he brings. I’m not trying to dog him or anything, but he kind of has the same style (as before).”
Mixed Martial Arts is a game of inches and Campos believes he’s grown leaps and bounds since the first fight. He talked about the improvements he’s made in camp and how his well-rounded approach will lead him to victory on fight night.
“I’ve been working with a new boxing coach in Lubock Texas named Reuben Gomez. He’s helped improve my boxing . My punches are so powerful, fast and crisp, everything is tight, and that’s what I’m going to need to do in order to beat Patricky. We’re probably going in there to bang it out, but I’m going to be a little tighter so I don’t get caught with anything. (I’ve) been work on the wrestling as well, so that I can mix it up, take him down and control him and dominate.”
For Campos, this fight may not necessarily catapult him into title contention, but will bring him closer to achieving his dream of capturing Bellator gold. He discussed his post-fight motives and what he wants after a victory over Freire.
“I don’t like to look past anyone but I do plan on going in there and dominating. After that, I have given it some thought and I would like to face the winner of the Michael Chandler and Josh Thompson fight … God willing I win this fight. After that I definitely feel like I would deserve the title shot but who knows, let’s let the future play out.”
This is not only Campos first time headlining a Bellator card, it’s his first time fighting outside of North America. For many professional mixed martial artists, the idea of fighting in a different continent is another distraction to deal with during training camp. Fighters have to maintain a careful balance of dieting, training and rest to ensure peak physical performance. The added variable of spending hours traveling acclimatizing yourself to a different environment is a nuisance for many fighters during fight week. However, Campos is excited about the proposition of fighting overseas and sees it as an opportunity to gain some exposure to help bring his championship aspirations that much closer.
“I’m really excited. I’m honored to be on the main event of Bellator’s first international card.” Said Campos. “We’ll go over there a week ahead and I will be able to get acclimated and adjusted and be ready to roll.”
Campos also discussed the evolution of the Bellator brand, and how the fight promotion is gaining traction with the UFC in regards to signing marquee talent. Campos feels the UFC’s new sponsorship deal with Reebok will only encourage more fighters to jump ship and look for other available opportunities.
“I definitely believe in the way Bellator is going. It’s sad to see what the UFC’s done to fighters with that Reebok deal, guys losing out on money that puts bread on the table for their families. Really I’m not surprised to see guys like Matt Mitrione , Ben Henderson and Josh Thompson come over to Bellator …. I believe it’s going to keep growing and were going to keep getting more and more guys from the UFC because Bellator is a good place to be, they know how to take care of you.”