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Bellator champ Darrion Caldwell lauds Dominick Cruz for pushing game to 'another level'

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Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is regarded as one of the best minds in the MMA business. The ability to work side-by-side with him on almost a daily basis has done nothing but good things for Bellator bantamweight titleholder Darrion Caldwell.

Caldwell (12-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) and Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) are teammates and primary training partners at Alliance MMA in San Diego, Calif. In recent years the pair has formed a tight bond and are competing at the highest level of the sport in their respective organizations.

Being a professional fighter is no easy task, and in the case of Cruz, he’s experienced it all. “The Dominator” has seen the highest of the highs in becoming a multi time UFC champion, but has also gone through the lowest of lows by losing key years of his career due to injury.


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For Caldwell, experiencing Cruz’s journey from close up has been educational. He’s taken that knowledge and is trying to use it for his own career, especially as he takes on a new challenge by fighting outside of his championship weight class when he meets Noad Lahat (12-3 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) in Friday’s featherweight headliner at Bellator 204.

“I take a lot mentally from Dom,” Caldwell told MMAjunkie. “There’s a lot of things you worry about as an athlete that maybe you shouldn’t worry about, but you don’t know you shouldn’t worry about it. He helps you focus on what you need. Honestly, he helps me understand all angles of the game. To be training with him is definitely a blessing.”

Bellator 204 takes place at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Caldwell vs. Lahat headlines the Paramount-televised main card following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.


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Caldwell, 30, is currently doing some big things in Bellator. He hopes a victory at Bellator 204 sets him down the path to become a simultaneous two division champion at 145 and 135 pounds, but he must first get past Lahat if he wants to move toward achieving that goal.

“The Wolf” said he’s feeling sharp going into Bellator 204, and that’s mainly because he has Cruz, 33, by his side throughout training camp. Caldwell said Cruz is nothing but a positive influence on his career, and he’s looking forward to his friend getting back to work in his own career – hopefully with a rematch against T.J. Dillashaw (16-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) for UFC gold.

“Dominick is doing great,” Caldwell said. “Training with him has obviously taken my game to another level. IQ-wise, physically. Right now he’s as good as I’ve ever felt him. I’m looking forward to him getting that rematch with T.J. Dillashaw and taking him out so the world knows Alliance MMA has the best 135-pounders in the world.”

For more on Bellator 204, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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