Josh Appelt steps up to co-main event status this Friday night at Bellator 162 in Memphis, Tennessee, taking on Bobby Lashley in a heavyweight scrap that could set him on the road to a title shot in 2017. The Californian tells FO all about the preparations for the biggest fight of his 12-5 fighting career.

Q. Friday represents a huge fight against a big name on national TV. You must be excited?

A. I am just grateful for what I have and the opportunity ahead of me. I have put a lot of hard work in and am going to go out there and make the best of it. I am excited to fight Bobby. He is a great athlete and a great competitor.

Q. Does a win on Friday night change your career?

A. It’s a huge opportunity. It’s a no-lose situation for me. If I go out there and beat Bobby Lashley my stock goes way up. If I go out there and lose and something happens, then it is what it is. My stock won’t drop too much.

Q. How did the fight come about?

A. They called me and asked me. I said yes and that was that. The same when they called and asked me to fight Sergei Kharatonov. The answer was yes. I’m here now. For me it’s ‘s**t or get off the pot’. Let’s go. I am ready to fight. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bobby. He is a great competitor and a great man. This is just two guys going in there and handling business and entertaining the fans.

Q. You aren’t the biggest heavyweight so I have to assume that’s where your nickname ‘The Juggernaut’ came from?

A. Actually, my dad gave me that name. I am half German and half Mexican. Nobody really knows that. One day he said ‘You are the Juggernaut.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He read the definition somewhere. He said, ‘That’s you.’ That’s how he got the name. He didn’t even know about the character.

Q. You have fought for a number of organizations over the course of your career. What is it like fighting for Bellator?

A. It’s exciting. The atmosphere is great. They all treat me great. They are great guys. It’s like I’m family, you know? All I hear is good things coming out of that organization.

Q. Why do you think so many fighters are keen to talk about the ‘family’ atmosphere at the promotion?

A. I don’t know what all goes on behind the scenes, of course. It’s a business but they are always upfront with me and treat me with the utmost respect. I do the same. I want them to know I am a company man. If they need me to fight, I will fight. They called me to fight Bobby Lashley and I was like, ‘Sure. Why not?’

Q. You’ve spent a lot of time at Team Alpha Male for this fight, what’s that been like?

A. I believe I have the skill level now, I am adapting and learning more and more each day. I have only been at Team Alpha Male two and a half months. I only go three days a week as I work a full time job at 10 hours a day. I learn so much every time I get in the gym.

Q. What has that experience done for you?

A. I needed a place to train and I contacted Justin Bucholz and he said they would love to have me. Ever since I have been there they have treated me like I am one of them. They help me so much. I love going to Danny Castillo’s wrestling practice. They are so intense. They are so driven. He is such an emotional guy. He only wants the best for us. The same with Justin. They have helped me so much with movement and little tweaks that you don’t even realize you do. Even though they are smaller guys, I’m not a big heavyweight, so they are working for me. I really enjoy the atmosphere.