I was fortunate enough to (virtually) attend the Bellator 258 post-fight conference on Friday night. While I was only able to ask a few questions, due to there being an increased number of media members now allowed to attend in person, it was a pleasure to speak with these athletes following their victories that night. You can read the conversations I had below.
From the main event, all the way down to the prelims, the spotlight is very much on the bantamweight division tonight. With this being your Bellator debut, and it going so successfully, give us your thoughts on the division as a whole and how you fit into that mix now?
I think that division is stacked, I think the card tonight shows that, and I think I just put myself right around the top of that division. I look at some of these guys, they’re incredible athletes, like Archuleta and Pettis, obviously beasts. But, I think I match up against all of them. I can wrestle, I can box, I can kickbox, I can brawl, I got good head movement, my footwork is fantastic, and I can submit people. Put me in there against any single one of them and I guarantee it will be a fantastic fight.
You dominated the fight, with 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards, and yet there was some criticism of your performance, and Josh’s performance, on the broadcast. They said you might not have fought with the urgency required to get a title shot. How do you feel about those criticisms? Are you happy with the performance you put in tonight, or are there things you wish you have done differently in hindsight?
I’m pretty happy with the performance. I feel like I pushed the action, and y’know I also didn’t wanna be reckless. Josh has an amazing right hand and I’ve seen a lot of people fall victim to that. He’s got some very good counters, so to those people… if it’s Josh who was talking, I done had enough of your shit Josh, you have done ragged on me enough. But Nah, it’s whatever. That’s what they’re paid to do, to analyse the fight, and that’s their opinion.
Congratulations on winning the belt. It feels like every week this year, people are being forced to wake up to how much elite MMA there is outside of the UFC, in all different promotions. Here you are, a guy who had success in the UFC, and now you’re the face of one of Bellator’s most exciting divisions. What does that mean to you? Representing the Bellator banner, being one of the faces of the organisation now, and is a showcase for how much great, elite MMA there is outside of just the UFC?
It feels great, man. Big thank you to Scott Coker and Bellator for giving me this opportunity. I felt like I was on my way to becoming champion in the UFC as well, but I just didn’t have the time or the star power that they wanted me to have, y’know? I’m a pretty normal dude out here, honestly. I love to train, I love to fight, I got two dogs and a lady, I don’t do too much outside of that. I’m not big into fashion or shining the way they want me to shine or promoting myself on social media. I’m the opposite of that, to be honest. It’s awesome that Bellator allows me to be myself, put no pressure on me, and I’m able to have these great performances and truly believe in myself. Big thank you to everyone behind the scenes at Bellator, you guys are amazing. Putting everything together so well and taking care of all the fighters, you guys do an A+ job so thank you, guys.