Dantas says anxiety played role in KO loss

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
5:08
PM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Eduardo Dantas Sherdog.comBantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas, right, says he will think twice before competing outside of the Bellator cage following his first-round knockout loss to Tyson Nam at Shooto Brazil 33.
Finding ways to stay active is one drawback to being a Bellator champion.

It's the reason bantamweight titleholder Eduardo Dantas felt compelled to step outside the Bellator cage for an Aug. 25 fight with Tyson Nam at Shooto Brazil 33 in Rio de Janeiro.

A right hand flattened Dantas in the first round.

Fighting outside of Bellator, especially while wearing the promotion's title belt, is something Dantas hopes he never has to do again.

"I was very anxious before the fight," Dantas told ESPN.com. "But I had a lot of confidence in myself. I trapped myself; I got a little anxious and got caught with the right hand. I had a lot riding on this show with friends and family there, and being the Bellator champion. I wanted to do my best in my home country. This made me very anxious before the fight.

"I will certainly think twice about fighting outside of the (Bellator) cage. But I was ready for the fight."

Despite the setback, Dantas remains confident he is a superior fighter to Nam. One way he'd like to prove it is with a rematch.

But if a rematch is to happen, it likely will have to take place inside Bellator. And Dantas has a more pressing matter to address -- defending his title against Marcos Galvao.

The two are tentatively scheduled to meet Nov. 2 at Bellator 79 in Rama, Ontario.

"I absolutely want that rematch in the future," said Dantas, who slipped to 14-3. "Tyson is the only name on my mind when I wake up in the morning. I'm going to focus on my Bellator title defense that is coming up. But before I'm done fighting I want to face Tyson again."

Before his recent loss, Dantas was ranked fifth among bantamweights by ESPN.com. He has since dropped to No. 9.

The loss by one of its champions to a fighter not under its banner can't help bolster Bellator's image among fight fans. But CEO Bjorn Rebney isn't losing any sleep over what took place in Brazil. For the time being, he will continue allowing his fighters -- especially champions -- to seek bouts with other promotions.

"In the fight, (Dantas) was dominating and he just got caught," Rebney told ESPN.com. "The fight is kind of self-explanatory: He was in control and got caught. This situation, unto itself, doesn't change my perception of wanting guys to be able to fight very frequently and willingness on our part to have fighters competing in other organizations.

"But it just so happens that with our Spike TV launch in January we're going to have many more tournaments, much more frequency of those tournaments and a greater number of tournaments going on. So our need to accommodate a guy like Dantas will to a large extent be eliminated."

Tyson is the only name on my mind when I wake up in the morning. I'm going to focus on my Bellator title defense that is coming up. But before I'm done fighting I want to face Tyson again.

-- Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas, on his recent knockout loss to Tyson Nam
As for Dantas wanting a Nam rematch, Rebney likes the idea and will do whatever he can to put the fighters in position to make it happen. He's considering making an overture to Nam (12-4) about fighting in Bellator, but there are some things even Rebney can't guarantee.

"We'll have to see what happens with Dantas in terms of his world title fight," Rebney said. "If Dantas is able to retain the world title against Marcos Galvao, then the only way Tyson Nam is going to get a shot at Eduardo Dantas is by winning a tournament. Given the depth of our 135-pound division, that is not an easy calling for anybody. But if Eduardo loses to Marcos, given our structure, it gives us more flexibility of making that rematch.

"When a guy like Tyson performs the way he performed [against Dantas] you have to take a good look at him. Our 135-pound division is deep, but getting a win over our world champion sure is a pretty good calling card for getting in one of those tournaments."

Nam has expressed interest recently in joining UFC. Attempts by ESPN.com to speak with UFC president Dana White have been unsuccessful.

Dantas isn’t the first highly touted fighter to suffer a devastating setback, and he surely won’t be the last. But anything short of exacting revenge against Nam, and Dantas will find it difficult to recapture his previous standing among bantamweights.

Rebney doesn’t share this point of view. In his eyes, Dantas will have his shot at redemption against Galvao.

"He happened to get caught, which can happen to the best," Rebney said. "It’s happened to Chuck [Liddell], it’s happened to Randy [Couture], everybody gets caught at one point or another during their career. My realization is that he just got caught. It wouldn’t have mattered on that night if it was Eduardo Dantas or Pat Curran or Michael Chandler or Ben Askren or anybody else. He just got caught.

"Perception-wise, Dantas fighting in Bellator on Spike network against Marcos Galvao should be an amazing fight. He’s going to answer a lot of those questions and kind of re-establish himself in terms of where he should be.”

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