It was a flying knee straight from hell that Tywan Claxton landed on Jonathan Bowman to open his professional MMA career at Bellator 186 in November 2017.
Despite Claxton’s knockout of the year performance getting well over 1 million views on YouTube and Twitter and being featured on ABC, ESPN and Bleacher Report things are largely the same in his day to day life.
“It hasn’t changed that much,” Said Claxton when asked about the impact of the knockout. “Other than me moving camps, going back to Cleveland, moving back to Strong Style. But other than that my life hasn’t changed. I still have the same friends telling me the same things. I still have the same people around me, I might have gained a couple of Instagram followers but that’s about it.”
Claxton’s transition from college wrestling to a career in pro MMA has been relatively brief in length but he’s already been on quite a journey.
After being denied a 5th year of eligibility to wrestle for Ohio University after the 2015-2016 season, a decision that Claxton referred to as “a heartbreak” he immediately shifted his focus to MMA.
“I moved down to Florida started training with the Blackzillians.” said Claxton “From there I signed 6 amateur fights, and I just kept getting better over time, just going to practice and then got my shot to make my pro debut and I made the most of it.”
Claxton’s last fight at Bellator 186 was on the prelims meaning that it was subsequently not televised. This Friday Claxton fights Jose Antonio Perez in a featherweight feature fight to open Bellator’s main card on Paramount TV. Bellator Shows typically have anywhere from 400,000 to 1,000,000 viewers.
Fighting in front of a bigger audience changes nothing for Claxton, “For me it’s the exact same thing. It’s like a wrestling match you know what I mean? No matter how big or how small the job that you have to do is the same, the way that you prepare for the job is the same so I just look at it the same way.”
What can people expect to see when they tune in on Friday night when he fights Perez?
“I’m just gonna go out there and do what I do best. I like to mix things up and that is what I’m gonna go out there and do. I’m not going out there to look for a big kill or a big glorious knee or anything like that. I’m gonna let it develop so whatever happens, happens, and I’m going out there with the mindset of I’m gonna fight how I like to fight and the rest of it is gonna take care of itself.”
As far as predictions go Claxton doesn’t see Perez making it out of the first round. He calmly said twice, “I’m gonna finish him in the first.”
Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) is the first fight on the main card of Bellator 194 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut which is headlined by a first round matchup in the Heavyweight Grand Prix between Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione.
Prelims start at 7 PM eastern followed by the main card starting at 9 PM eastern live on the Paramount Network Friday night.