Sport: Wrestling & MMA
Born: December 19, 1987
Town: Hillsborough Township
Darrion Caldwell was born December 19, 1987 in Rahway. A swift, agile and strong all-around athlete, he was a talented football and baseball player who added wrestling to his résumé at Rahway High School. He was All-Region on the gridiron as a junior and senior and three-time state champion for the Indians’ wrestling squad. Darrion stood 5’10 and weighed 140 pounds, but dominated in that weight division, graduating in 2006 with a 146–4 record. He was known for celebrating big victories with a backflip.
Darrion went to North Carolina State on a wrestling scholarship and just missed becoming an All-American his freshman year. He was an All-American three timeds beginning in in 2007–08, and was NCAA champion as a junior in 2009 in the 149 lb. class. He defeated Brent Metcalf in the finals, 11–6. Near the end of the match, Dorrian attempted a celebratory backflip, but Metcalf—the tournament favorite—shoved him mid-flip. Dorrian landed hard, which may have contributed to a shoulder injury later that year that caused him to redshirt his senior year. Darrion came back during the 2010–11 season and was undefeated heading into the NCAA Championships, but reinjured the shoulder during competition. His final record for the Wolfpack was 109–13.
After an unsuccessful attempt to make the 2012 Olympic team, Darrion turned his attention to an MMA career. After a string of impressive victories, he moved down to the Bantamweight class, fighting at 135 lbs. After a 2015 victory, he tried one of his patented celebratory backflips and landed on a camerawoman. She and Dorrian were embarrassed but unhurt.
In 2017, Darrion defeated Eduardo Dantas for the Ballator MMA Bantamweight crown. Bellator is the second-largest MMA organization behind UFC; the word translates to Warrior in Latin. He lost the title in 2019 to Kyoji Horiguchi.
Darrion was part of a 16-man Grand Prix Bantamweight Tournament in 2019–20. He reached the semifinals before the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. .