The main event of Bellator 295 features a battle for the interim bantamweight title, and the man holding the gold knows he’s facing the toughest test of his combat sports career.
Defending interim 135-pound champion Raufeon Stots will take on Patchy Mix in the main event at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday night, and the ever-confident champion said he has to be on top of his game to turn back the challenger of the bantamweight division’s most lethal submission finisher.
“I feel like this is the biggest test,” Stots told reporters during media day in Honolulu.
“I wouldn’t have said that at the beginning of the tournament; I don’t think many people thought he would beat [Kyoji] Horiguchi. But now, I think this is the two best bantamweight fighters in the world, and I stand by that.
“I do a lot of studying, and when I look at Patchy, I see a highly skilled grappler. I see somebody who’s improving and somebody who’s changed their life. But I’m hella confident, and I’m sure I’ll end up the bantamweight champion.”
Victory for Stots will book him into a championship unification bout later this year, with the main champion, Stots’ teammate Sergio Pettis, set to face former lightweight and current featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull.
“Patricio is not a big guy, so hopefully he makes a good move to 135,” he said.
“I think this is super exciting for the bantamweight division. Granted I win this fight, I have the chance to fight the Bellator GOAT. I couldn’t be happier that he’s making that step.
“He’s on the cusp of something nobody’s done in MMA. You hear people talk about it, but nobody’s done it. He’ll be remembered forever if he accomplishes that. But look on the other side of it, too — Sergio has the chance to beat somebody trying to do that, too. I was looking at the landscape, and at the end of it, I’ll have $1,000,000. And everybody knows I’m not eager to fight Sergio.
“I knew he was itching to get back, so this gives me a chance to enjoy the $1,000,000 in the bank and grab an extra-large popcorn to watch this. I had to scratch and climb to get here. I didn’t always have all this hype; now I’m getting recognized for being one of the best in the world. I’m happy this fight is happening, so I’ll get some time off.”
“I feel like I will myself to these big stages. The way I prepare and think about myself is championship level. I try to do everything to the best of my ability, and I hold myself to a high standard.”