Super Prospect Dylan Cala Returns at Valor Fights 41
The 23-year-old bantamweight has placed himself on a larger radar as he notched back-to-back victories to close out 2016. Cala finished both opponents he faced under the USFFC banner, and now the North Carolina transplant is ramping up to make a run at the big leagues.
The highly touted prospect will make his return to action against Chris Wright at Valor 41 on March 18. The bout will mark Cala's first showing under the Valor banner, and he's looking to make a huge impact on the Tennessee-based powerhouse.
"The timing works out perfectly," Cala said. "I have a lot going on at the gym and the time off allowed me to have a great holiday with the kids. Fighting in March will allow me to get out to train at the MMA Lab for a few weeks and put a great camp together.
"John Crouch is an awesome coach and I love working with him. The Lab has so many guys who train and fight at such a high level and that is the kind of work I need to keep my game progressing. I have Coach Jimmo at home and he's one of the best in the world so he makes sure I'm getting better every day. I've made a lot of progress since my last fight and the world is going to see it in my next fight."
While Cala will have a ton of momentum heading into Valor 41, he knows his opponent is not one to be taken lightly. Wright will compete as a bantamweight for the first time in nearly four years, but the Tennessee native will have a sizable advantage where experience is concerned.
Facing Wright is simply the next step in the journey.
Although the Roufusport fighter's record may not directly represent the dangers he presents, his striking and versatility make him the perfect opponent for Cala to face at this point in his career.
"I hear Wright is pretty tough and I don't have any problem walking into his backyard and beating him up," Cala said. "There is business to be done and it doesn't matter if that business is Tennessee or Japan; I'm getting the job done. I'm going in there to put these guys away and keep taking steps closer to my ultimate goal of becoming UFC bantamweight champion.
"I like that Wright has solid experience and is a fight there weren't a lot of people eager to take. I didn't hesitate in the slightest when it was offered to me. I want to test myself. I'm not sitting here trying to build some padded record that looks good on paper. I'm putting myself in there with tough competition to make sure when I reach the UFC I'm going to be ready to face the best in the world.
"I've always known in my heart I'm going to make it and accomplish each and every one of my goals," he added. "I've had a lot of setbacks along the way, but nothing will break my will to get what I'm going after. I'm starting to branch out and get my name out there a little bit, and the more eyes on me the better."
Cala will be the first to admit the buzz surrounding him hit an entirely new level following his most recent victory. Following his second round submission victory over Kongo Bakatukanda, his phone began to ring with well wishes and media requests from all corners of the MMA landscape.
While Cala's modest nature wouldn't allow him to put too much stock in the uptick of attention, he took comfort in the fact more eyes were on him. For a blue collar grinder like Cala, all the hype is just further proof the hard work and sacrifices are paying off. And he has every intention of keeping that train rolling strong in 2017.
"I thrive in the spotlight," Cala said. "When there are eyes on me and there is pressure to perform; that's when I do my best. I've competed in smaller shows and now fighting for Valor is a step into something bigger. I'm branching out and getting the experience I need to keep my career moving forward.
"I'm getting closer to where I'm aiming to go with each fight and I'm not about to slow down. I going to keep putting these guys away until the world knows I'm the best 135-pound fighter on the planet. I'll keep doing what I have to do until I get the chance to get in there and take that belt away from Cody Garbrandt or whoever is holding it when I arrive.
"Those fighters may not know who I am just yet but I promise you they will very soon."