Higo and Caldwell will meet again in the co-main event of Friday night’s Bellator 259 in Uncasville, Conn., and “Pitbull” guarantees he’s “never felt so good any in every aspect of my life” going into Bellator 259.
“It will be way different from the first fight,” Higo said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I got into Bellator in a complete turbulence, right? I was fighting the champion [Eduardo] ‘Dudu’ [Dantas] on short notice right away and had a bit turbulence again after that loss to Caldwell. I went back home and looked to evolve in every sense of the fight, both personally and professionally, and I can see the difference now.
“A new Leandro Higo is coming. It was three years of bitterness. I knew I would get this rematch one day, I would fight him again. I’m here for this. Let’s make this fight happen the best way possible.”
Higo, who missed weight for Bellator 259 and fined 20 percent of his purse, doesn’t say that getting a win back on Friday is just about Caldwell.
“Everybody that has defeated me bothers me in a way – I don’t like it,” he said. “I’m a bit competitive, [and] I hate losing in any way. Let’s say it was a little bit of bitterness, not only because of the submission per se, because he caught me in my area, but also because the fight didn’t go longer and I didn’t do much. He caught me and it left me that taste of wanting to prove myself and wanting to fight more.”
Caldwell has gone 3-3 since that win over Higo, suffering two of those defeats by way of submission in bouts against Kyoji Horiguchi and A.J. McKee. Higo won his past two by tapout and sees a hole in Caldwell’s game on the ground “because he has been submitted three times.”
“My goal is always to submit [my opponent], but I have knockout power and I hit really hard,” Higo said. “But I don’t want to submit him or knock him out this time. I want to fight all three rounds and enjoy more what I couldn’t last time. That’s true. It would be great to have three rounds of war with this guy [laughs].”
“Pitbull” has twice faced a Bellator bantamweight champion and lost in bouts against Dantas and Caldwell earlier in his career. That said, he expects to earn another crack at the gold with a solid win at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Brazilian 135-pounder currently sits at No. 6 in the official Bellator rankings with Sergio Pettis now holding the undisputed gold. Higo is excited about the future of the weight class with names like Magomed Magomedov climbing toward the belt, but guarantees “everything changes in this division after Friday because I’m coming to be the champion.”
“I’m fighting a former champion who was dominant and has even beat me, a man that was feared in this division, and winning impressively will get me right in the mix to fight for the title,” Higo said. “There are some guys ahead of me but I don’t see any of them challenging and beating the champion. I want another shot after this victory, a new shot to winning this belt and bringing it back to Brazil.”