Bellator 215: Austin Vanderford “Looking to Make an Impact Off the Bat”

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Austin Vanderford
Credit: Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC

Making his debut at Bellator 215 this Saturday in Uncasville, CT, Austin Vanderford is looking for more than just a win, but to make an immediate impact.

Austin Vanderford is beyond ready for his debut at Bellator 215 and he believes he is ready to make immediate noise in the anticipated debut. Vanderford is a 6-0 welterweight prospect who many may remember from his showing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series with a submission victory over Angelo Trevino.

“To be in the spotlight, to be on the main card in my debut means so much to me. Everything happens for a reason and that has brought me to right here and I couldn’t be more excited to go.”

“AK47” did not receive a contract from UFC President Dana White, which came as a surprise to many. After a rear naked choke victory in the second round, it wasn’t enough to win over White and company. Dana handed out three contracts in week 5, but the undefeated welterweight wasn’t a recipient. Vanderford did not let this stall his mission of being a world champion one day.

Via Vanderford Instagram (austinv170mma)

“I thought I might have done enough, but so much talent on that show you can never be sure. No hard feelings or animosity towards the UFC, I am happy where I’m at with Bellator. Overall contract or not it was an amazing experience, it brought me to a big stage where I proved I could get it done, without that I probably wouldn’t be here.”

The reason many were surprised by the lack of signing by Dana White is that one of his most promoted fighters, Paige VanZant, is married to Vanderford. Paige VanZant has been a fan favorite throughout her career and was recently cornered by her husband at UFC Brooklyn, which was an armbar victory for VanZant.

“Paige motivates me everyday, to see what she went through, multiple arm surgeries, having to watch me train but not being able to herself,” Vanderford told Cageside Press ahead of Bellator 215. “To see her win at Brooklyn was special for both of us.”

Vanderford and VanZant build off of each other inside and outside of the cage, training partners at their gym but also life partners outside of the gym, a pairing that builds an even stronger relationship than most can imagine.

“Our relationship is so different, not many couples train together, weight cut together. Weight cutting is never easy but she has been through it just as much as me.” Vanderford continued laughing “I remember once during cutting she kept telling me you aren’t going to die and I don’t know just to hear that always reminds me that we are in all of this together even if only one of us is fighting.”

It is not only Paige who Vanderford trains with at Gracie Barra in Portland, Oregon. The gym is full of top tier talent, including the likes of Chael Sonnen, Ricky Simon and Ed Herman. Training with this top tier talent on a daily basis has not only helped Vanderford for his upcoming fight, but as a person as well.

“They teach me about life, they teach me how to be a better fighter in the cage and a better person outside of the cage. We are one big family, Ricky [Simon] is fighting this weekend at UFC 234 so we are all excited for that one and I’m sure they will be doing the same for my fight.”

Friday February 15th is a day that will live forever in the mind of Vanderford who will be making his initial walk to the Bellator cage. His opponent, a fellow fighter making his debut at Bellator 215, Cody Jones. Jones is a winner of four straight with an overall record of 6-2-0.

“I know Cody is not an easy fight, I don’t want anything easy, this is a kid who will be trying to finish me just like I’ll be trying to finish him. I don’t predict fights often but all I predict for this one is a Fight of the Night-esque match-up. Someone is going to finish someone.”

Austin Vanderford looks to improve his undefeated record to 7-0-0 this Friday night at Bellator 215, in Uncasville, CT at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

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