One hundred percent focused on his latest MMA run, Joe Schilling is ready for Bellator 210, ready for Will Morris, and has plans on making a new home at welterweight moving forward.
Joe Schilling is about to embark on another MMA run, and this time, he’s all in. Schilling, who hasn’t fought since December of last year (in Kickboxing), has been preparing for his most recent shot at breaking into MMA for a while now. It’s a decision he’s been very open about, in terms of the motivation behind it being at least in part a financial one.
“It’s just overall accessibility. How many kickboxing fights have you seen this week on TV?” he asked Cageside Press ahead of Bellator 210 at the end of the month. “But you’ve seen probably f*cking ten MMA shows. That just shows it’s a much bigger sport, much more highly promoted, and there’s more fans to watch it. That turns into more revenue and opportunities.”
There’s going to be no juggling of sports this time, either. “Just MMA,” Schilling said of the plan moving forward. That despite a four-fight winning streak in kickboxing, also under the Bellator banner.
“I was going back and forth with MMA and kickboxing for a while before, and the results weren’t that great for me. It was hard to concentrate on two sports at the same time,” he admitted. And kickboxing always came first for Schilling, with MMA more “like a side thing.” Unhappy with the results, Schilling changed up the game plan. “The last year, I’ve really focused on my entire MMA game. I’m looking forward to showing that on the 30th.”
Just how different a Joe Schilling fans can expect at Bellator 210 is the question heading into the fight. “Hopefully he’ll be a lot different. It should be a lot different, I guess we’ll find out on the 30th.” Training with Mickey Gall and a number of other talented athletes to hone his MMA game, Schilling has been learning a lot. “It should be a very different Joe Schilling, but again, we’ll see.”
The former Glory middleweight tournament champion isn’t taking anything for granted, mind you. “Even the striking is different in MMA versus kickboxing,” he pointed out. “In kickboxing you can attack and throw combinations, in MMA it’s really just more 1-2s. The distance and the timing is really different.” The threat of the takedown, of course, changes things up.
The ground game was obviously going to be a focus for Schilling as he transitions to full-time MMA fighter. “I feel a lot more comfortable on the ground,” he told us, though he did admit that anything can happen.
Although he wasn’t being submitted much in his last MMA run, Schilling revealed that “I’ve been focusing a lot on being able to dictate where the fight takes place, versus being at the will of my opponent. Stopping the takedown, and getting up from them has been the main focus.”
He’ll get to put those efforts to work against Will Morris, a short-notice replacement for Jose Leija. The bout goes down at middleweight. In Leija, Schilling saw a fighter who was primarily a striker. Not so with Morris. Instead, he’s “much more of a well-rounded guy, he’s definitely going to try to take me down for sure. We’ll see how that goes.”
The change in fighters isn’t something that bothers Schilling too much. “I just gotta focus on myself. If I ever focus too much on the other guy, it just leads to too a whole bunch of other problems. I just focus on me performing at the level I should perform at on the 30th.”
After the Morris fight at Bellator 210, however, Schilling is planning on making a change. His days at 185lbs may be numbered. “I think I’m going to drop to 170 probably after this fight. I’m in a lot better shape this time, my weight is a lot lower,” he explained. “All the guys that I’m training with are walking around just around the same amount of weight I’m walking around at. They’re fighting at 170. So I’ll probably go to 170 after this.”
While he admits it’s not entirely his call and rests on what Scott Coker and company want to do, 170 is where much where he wants to be next. The division is currently in the midst of a grand prix, and Schilling is a fighter, with his kickboxing background, who has plenty of tournament experience. The possibility of stepping in as an alternate, or fighting in a future grand prix, is of interest. “Yeah you never know. I definitely like tournaments, so that would be great. We’ll see what happens,” he said on the subject.
A dad before he ever turned pro, Schilling told us ahead of Bellator 210 that fatherhood “definitely motivated me a lot. It kept me focused.” Schilling’s youngest son trains, and idolizes his dad, to the point of knowing Schilling’s career inside and out. His number one fan, no doubt. Would he ever want to see him follow in his footsteps, some day way off in the future? “I would support him in whatever he wanted to do, to be honest with you. I don’t know if I would love it, but I wouldn’t mind, it would be cool. I’d definitely support him if he wanted to go that route,” Schilling answered.
That “what if” is for some far-off time the future. For now, Schilling gets down to business Friday at Bellator 210 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Schilling vs. Morris airs as part of the preliminary card.
Bellator 210’s main card airs live on the Paramount Network Friday, November 30 at 9PM EST, following online prelims that you can catch right here at Cageside Press.