Bellator has not only built a nice niche for itself by possessing some of the best fighters in the lower weight classes, but they also seem to have a knack for finding local talent and showcasing them on their undercards. This gives these particular fighters an opportunity to fight in front of a larger audience, on a bigger stage and it helps prepare them for what will hopefully be a long, successful career.
Metairie, Louisiana native Eric Scallan will take what he hopes to be the first step on his way to top of the mountain this Friday night when he faces Texas native Derrick Krantz in front of what should be a wild and raucous crowd at the Horseshoe Riverdome in Bossier City, LA.
“I grew up right outside of New Orleans and started wrestling when I was just eight years old,” said Scallan in an interview with Fighters.com. “I kind of excelled at it and I placed three times in the states. My senior year I placed second in state and continued on as a freshman at Dana College in Omaha, Nebraska and was a teammate of Benson Henderson. I was young and really didn’t focus so I transferred to Wartburg College in Iowa. Again I failed to live up to my potential and made the move to Lafeyette, LA.”
“I started training with Dustin Poirier at some rinky dink Karate Dojo where we would choke each other with belts and punch sand,” Scallan continued, half-joking. “We made the best of it. I had a wrestling background and Dustin had great hands and a killer instinct. We made the move to Gladiator Academy and joined up with Tim Credeur. From there things really took off. He showed us what being a martial artist was all about. He was an awesome coach; he showed us real Jiu-Jitsu and helped me rid my life of all the garbage and nonsense that surrounded me.”
With both he and his opponent living in close proximity to Bossier City there may not be a home-field advantage, but that doesn’t make a difference as far as Scallan is concerned. As long as he has a chance to showcase his skills he’s more than happy.
“Krantz has actually fought in Shreveport a lot,” explained Scallan. “To be honest he may have the hometown advantage. The most important thing is getting to fight on the main stage. I’ve been through so much bullshit fighting in these smaller organizations and traveling throughout Texas and Mississippi just to get some fights. Watching Dustin in the limelight has pissed me off because I feel as though I should be there with him, but I have no one to blame but myself.”
Scallan has worked hard to get where he is at. He admittedly made a lot of mistakes and because of his immaturity he feels as though he never fully lived up to his potential as a collegiate wrestler. Thankfully he has woken up and with the help of some great teammates and the support of his family and friends he is looking forward to becoming a world class mixed martial artist. He understands that anything worth having takes hard work and persistence. Combine his natural athletic ability with those important virtues and you have a recipe for something special. His background plays a huge role in who he is and where he plans on going.
“I knew if I worked hard I would catch a break. I had one of my old fight promoters put in a good word for me and Bellator called me to replace Krantz’s original opponent who had gotten injured. I’m not looking at this fight as something to be grateful for because I know I deserve to be here,” Scallan revealed. “I feel like I definitely belong here and I’m ready to show everyone that I belong here fighting amongst the best in the world. I am fully disciplined now and changed my life around, I haven’t drank in over nine months and changed my diet, my whole lifestyle revolves around MMA.”
Recently there has been some attention thrust upon the guys at Gladiator in particular Poirier. He was shown training alongside Matt Schnell from the MTV reality series Caged and, according to Scallan who was there, they handed Schnell a beating to see where his true intentions were at. Scallan was more than surprised and walked away somewhat impressed at how dedicated Schnell is to becoming a legitimate Mixed Martial Srtist as opposed to a reality show star. Schnell found something out about Poirier that Scallan has known for a long time and that is Poirier is as dedicated to MMA than any other fighter.
“Dustin made it pretty clear in one of his interviews that he wasn’t really looking to be filmed for the show,” offered Scallan. “They came down and just trained for the one day. We have kind of a big ego at our gym and we beat the sh*t out of Schnell. He was beat up before Poirier even got to him, we had him sparring for five minute rounds. We actually liked the kid and have a lot of respect for him. He came in really humble and worked really hard. He didn’t act like a bad-ass or anything.”
“From what I have been told he is training down in Sacramento with Team Alpha Male and Joseph Benavidez,” Scallan elaborated on his fellow Louisiana fighter. “He’s set up with Tito Ortiz’s group Team Punishment. He is really taking advantage of the opportunities the show has created for him. He really likes Dustin and admires the discipline that he has. Poirier is a great guy to follow, he works hard and has come a long way. He is definitely something special, he lives and breathes MMA. He’ll work out three or four times a day and I can call him to work out with me and he’ll never say no. You have to tell him no sometimes, he’s been a huge inspiration to me.”
With a great team behind him, a positive attitude, and desire to become one of the best in the sport, Scallan will face the toughest test of his short MMA career on Friday night. Krantz is 10-5 and has finished every one of his victories. He also has faced a higher level of competition. One advantage Scallan has over Krantz is two of his teammates have fought and defeated Krantz within the last fifteen months.
“If you’re from Texas or Louisiana then you know who Derrick Krantz is,” Scallan said. “He had about 20-30 amateur fights and had a pretty start to his professional career winning his first seven fights. The only people he has lost to are Poirier, another teammate of mine in Rich Clementi, one guy who fights for Bellator, and two guys who are in Strikeforce now. He hasn’t lost to anyone who he wasn’t supposed to lose to. He’s not a traditional wrestler, but has good takedowns and is really strong. His stand-up is not technically good, but he’ll keep coming forward no matter how many times you hit him. My cardio is better than is, but once it gets out of the first round it’ll be all downhill after that.”
As everything else falls into place around him, Scallan is able to focus fully on his fighting career. He recently signed on with Alchemist Management which has alleviated a lot of his fears concerning the outside distractions. Alchemist has become the home for many of today’s top Mixed Martial Artists including Nate Marquardt, Stephen Thompson, Brendan Schaub, Rory MacDonald, Thiago Silva, and many others. Scallan knew it was imperative that he had the right people behind him looking out for his best interest so that he can concentrate on training and becoming the best fighter he can be.
“Things are really coming together for me now,” said an excited Scallan. “Signing with Bellator and Lex McMahon and the Alchemist group gives me a clear cut path to the UFC and to the top. I’m finally ready to grab the brass ring. If this would’ve happened earlier I don’t think I would’ve been ready for it. Finding the right representation was a big concern for me and finding someone who is trustworthy. Everyone I have talked to has said Lex is a guy I can trust. No one had a bad thing to say about him or Alchemist and that really put my mind at ease.”
Scallan is very confident and he has no problem admitting that he has an ego. He feels as though his talent is as good as anyone else in the sport. He has the perfect opportunity to show the world what he is made of and what he has to offer. That comes as good news to those who are behind Scallan, but for the man who will be locked inside the cage with him it spells nothing but trouble.
“You are going to see me show up, this is the biggest fight of my life on the biggest stage,” exclaimed Scallan. “I always perform my best under pressure; it’s going to be non-stop action. You won’t see me get tired and you’ll never see me quit. Every time I get hit I’m going to swing right back. My pace gets better as the fight goes on. Anything can happen in MMA with those four ounce gloves, but Krantz will have to kill me if he wants to beat me. I have so much on the line and I’m so focused on winning that I can’t see it going any other way that in my favor. Expect to see me finish him and put on an exciting show for the fans.”
Catch Scallan fight on the Bellator 61 prelims starting at approximately 6:00 PM EST. The show is highlighted by the opening round of the organization’s Season 6 middleweight tournament and a rematch between heavyweights Thiago Santos-Eric Prindle to determine the Season 5 tournament champion.