“I wish I would have opened up a little bit more (against Silva) to get the finish, but it shows that I have what it takes to hang with the best guys in the division,” Caldwell told MMAWeekly.com. “He has some notable wins and good fights against some of the better guys of the division. It was a good win for me and a confidence booster.
“Shawn was a bit more of a tune-up for me. I expected that fight to go fairly easy. Shawn’s strength was my strength, but I knew I was going to be too much to deal with. It was an awesome win for me, but I want to push forward because I have bigger fish to fry.”
While the wins kept Caldwell undefeated in his first eight fights, he doesn’t feel completely satisfied with how his victories have come.
“I couldn’t really get the finishes I was looking for,” said Caldwell. “I felt like I was thrown to the wolves a little bit. I feel my progression is right where I want to be, looking back on it now, but I’d like to have those finishes.
“Joe likes to bring the pressure and people back down and give him the sense that he’s pushing the pace, and that’s when things go bad for those guys,” said Caldwell. “For me, I’m a pressure fighter. I like to get in his face and smother him and make him feel uncomfortable.
“I want to make Joe uncomfortable out there. He’s going to want to get into positions where he feels he’s best at, but I’m just better than he is at all positions.”
Entering his second full year with Bellator, Caldwell feels title contention could be right around the corner. And after recent events surrounding 135-pound champion Marcos Galvao, Caldwell could be closer to the title than he thinks.
“Every fight for me is like a title fight,” said Caldwell. “I want to get that strap around my waist, and with a win, I’m one step closer to that shot. It’s another fight, but it’s a title fight for me.
“Considering that Galvao pulled out for the second time and won’t fight (Eduardo) Dantes, I believe this should be an interim title fight, and after I get the win, the strap should be around my waist. Whatever fight is in front of me, I’m prepared, I’m going to take it in stride and that’s just it.”