More often than not, having the unexpected happen in a bout usually plays out with negative consequences for a fighter, but in the case of featherweight prospect Tywan Claxton, things not going as he anticipated played out very much in his favor for his pro debut.
Prior to his pro debut against Jonny Bonilla-Bowman at Bellator 186 this past November, Claxton figured he was in for a difficult night. What ended up happening was Claxton picking up a 90-second TKO victory in a contender for Knockout of the Year fashion.
“I was prepared for a long, tough, fight with Jonny,” Claxton told MMAWeekly.com. “I saw some of his GLORY kickboxing fight, and I saw he was a former collegiate wrestler, so I thought he was tough. I was prepared to go out there for a battle and a grind, but the fight was over quicker than I expected.”
“I think there were two factors to not having any nerves during my pro debut,” said Claxton. “One: I’ve been competing in wrestling my entire life, so I’m used to competing no matter what.
“Second: along with a long amateur career where I fought six times in the course of seven or eight months, I also trained with some of the best guys. It gives you a sense of belonging and a meter to set where you are as a fighter. That helped me stay cool, calm, and collected in fights.”
Claxton (1-0) will look to build off his momentum of last year when he takes on Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) in a main card 145-pound bout at Bellator 194 on Friday in Uncasville, Conn.
“This is a guy (in Perez) with the same amount of experience I have in professional fights,” Claxton said. “I just have to go out there and do what I do. I mix things up how I like to. I have make sure my motion is sharp, my angles are sharp, and something will present itself and I’ll take it.”
In a stacked division such as featherweight, fighters have to do more than just win in order to make a case for themselves as they move up the ranks. Claxton understands this, and intends to be the kind of fighter that can distance himself from the pack with strong performances going forward.
“I think I just have to go out there and put people away,” said Claxton. “I have to go out there and dominate. There can’t’ be any decisions. I can’t leave anything up to the judges. I have to put people away, and once I do that, people will realize that by either a big move or by domination, I’m a finisher. I think that’s the key. “