On Friday November 20th Derek “The Stallion” Campos (15-5) will face Brandon Girtz (13-4) at Bellator 146 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The lightweight matchup has huge implications for both fighters. Campos who already holds a decision victory over Girtz will be trying to bounce back from a recent loss to Michael Chandler and a 1-2 record over his last three fights, while Girtz will be looking to improve on his two fight win streak and make his case for a title shot in the near future. I recently had a chance to speak with Campos about his career and the upcoming fight with Girtz.
CW: How is your training going? How do you feel coming into this fight?
DC: It’s going really well. I feel good. I feel confident about what were doing, what we’ve been working on. I’ve gotten a couple of dings and little bruises but nothing serious. Its nothing you don’t expect when you’re training hard for a fight. I’m prepared and I’m in good shape physically. I feel like I’m 100% ready to go, mind and body.
CW: How big is this fight for you? You’re one and two in your last three fights. You always want to win obviously but is this one a little bit bigger for you?
DC: Every fight is do or die for me. I’m not too happy with my last fight performance against Chandler but I don’t dwell on it and I know what I want to do going into this next fight against Girtz. We have what I call unfinished business. I want to take it to him and finish him this time.
CW: The Pitbull loss must have been really tough. I’ve rewatched that fight several times and you were really beating him up until he caught you early in the second. It seemed he more knocked you off balance than really hurt you. Did you think that fight got stopped a little prematurely?
DC: Yeah when he got my back and mounted me I was thinking a little too much. I was thinking about what to do and when to scramble instead of scrabbling. I wasn’t scrabbling that’s why he stopped the fight. From the camera I know it looks like a good stoppage but from my mind, No it wasn’t. I know I should have been moving though, so the fight got stopped.
CW: The Bellator lightweight division is stacked with talent. I’ve talked to a lot of the guys and I think there are a lot of legitimate threats out there. What’s your view of the competition?
DC: I think it’s the most competitive division in Bellator right now. You’ve got Brooks, Chandler, Held, Saad Awad, Ryan Couture; You’ve got Josh “The Punk” Thompson. All those guys and more I haven’t even mentioned. It’s a stacked division.
CW: You’ve said your legacy is to be champion. Right now that means you’ll have to go through Will Brooks. He is looking pretty solid. What did you think about his most recent title defense against Marcin Held?
DC: I think he showed true grit, true perseverance by not tapping to that nasty knee bar. I think he said he heard his knee pop. Most guys couldn’t have got through that. It was a different side of Will Brooks. I think that’s what he showcased that night was his determination, mentally not physically. Physically we already knew he was there. He’s one tough son of a gun.
CW: You’ve beaten Girtz before in a decision. A lot of the coverage I’ve read has been about his recent two fight win streak, a big win over Melvin Gulliard and him trying to make it three in a row and it seems like they are covering you as a journeyman whose up and down. What kind of statement will it make if you beat Girtz again?
DC: I’m nobody’s stepping-stone. I’m not a gatekeeper. I’m not just some dog for people to walk on. For me this fight is personal because I didn’t finish the last fight. I knocked him down and I thought I was going to knock him out but I didn’t. For me personally I want to show the world that I’m a top fighter so I’m going in there looking to finish him. That’s my goal.
CW: Girtz likes to come forward and use his striking to set up takedowns but you constantly press the action too. You really like that lead left hook and he keeps his right hand pretty low when striking. Do you think you’ll be able to exploit that the same way Derek Anderson did? Will you have the striking advantage?
DC: I feel confident that Ill have the striking advantage but you never really know for sure until you get in the cage. I think he is going to come in holding his hands high because he knows I have power. Initially I’m looking for his hands to be up but when they do start dropping it’s going to be all about that timing that Derek Anderson used. It’s going to be all about my footwork; staying on the outside of his lead foot and timing. It’s all about that angle. When you fight a southpaw you have to work that footwork.
CW: Even though your record for your last three fights is, I think you would agree, disappointing, Scott Coker and Bellator seems to remain confident in your skill and what you bring to the table. They gave you another main card fight against a high level guy despite you recent setbacks. How good has the organization been to you?
DC: I believe that they know I’m a tough fighter. They’re giving me a chance to showcase what I have. They’re giving me a chance to really rise up. It’s my job, come the 20th, to take advantage of that. To show them that I belong in the top tier, that I belong on the bigger cards, that I can showcase what Bellator is all about. So, yeah it means a lot to me what Bellator has done for me. Now I need to do my part and get back and put on the performances and the type of finishes that are expected of Bellator MMA fighters.
CW: I know you’re concentrating on the fight in front of you but in this talent heavy division is there anyone you’re looking at? If you win who would you like to fight next?
DC: God willing, if this fight goes the way that I see it, I would definitely like the Pitbull rematch. If I don’t get the Pitbull fight I’d like to fight Ryan Couture or Josh “The Punk” Thompson. Those are the only two other guys that I’ve really thought about.
CW: I like to ask all the guys this question and give them a chance to say what they want to about who they are. What do you want to tell people who aren’t really familiar with you yet? What do they need to know about Derek Campos?
DC: I’m just a simple Texas guy. I love being with my family and friends. I fight because I love the competition and I love the sport. There is no greater test than a man going into battle with another man. That’s it. I work a regular everyday job when I’m not fighting. I try to live life to the fullest, give respect to others and take it day by day. I take pride in everything I do whether it’s in the cage or at an 8 to 5 job.
CW: Thanks a lot Derek. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and I would love the chance to talk to you again in the future.
DC: No problem. Thank you. Yeah, we can talk again anytime.
Derek Campos is a well-rounded fighter. Out of his fifteen victories four are by KO and five by submission. He packs power in both hands, can take the fight to the ground and works well off of his back. This is a big fight for both men. Girtz would like to avenge his earlier loss to “The Stallion” and Campos plans on making a statement. One thing is clear, Derek Campos was right when he said this fight is “unfinished business.” Don’t miss Bellator 146 Friday November 20th.
Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes
Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.
Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).
In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.
Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”
In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.
This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video
Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.
The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.
Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)
Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.
RN: 265 lb.
MM: 255 lb.
Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.
PF: 155 lb.
DC: 154 lb.
Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.
HH: 126.25 lb*
AJ: 125 lb.
Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.
LM: 203.75 lb.
VN: 205 lb.
Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.
TW: 145 lb.
JS: 142.25 lb.
Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)
Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
RS: 155.5 lb.
RL: 156 lb.
Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout.
MK: 135.75 lb.
GT: 135 lb.
Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.
RC: 145 lb.
TE: 146 lb.
Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.
JT: 205.5 lb.
WH: 203 lb.
Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.
MS: 156 lb.
DH: 155.25 lb.
Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.
PN: 163.5 lb.
KX 164.5 lb.
Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
TH: 154 lb.
PC: 155.5 lb.
*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193
Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.
The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.
The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.
“It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”
Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.
“He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”
Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.
“I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”
Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.
“I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”
Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.
“Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”
With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.
“Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”
As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.
“Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”
If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.
“I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”
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