With Bellator 221 this weekend, it’s a huge week of fights. We get to sit down and talk with Adil Benjilany ahead of his fight on the Bellator card.
Bellator 221 is right around the corner and it’s shaping up to be a banger of a card. From the main event between Michael Chandler and Patricio Pitbull, to Jack Hager’s return to the cage, not to mention, Michael Page versus Douglas Lima, Bellator 221 has a lot of people excited. One fight flying under the radar is Adil Benjilany and Chris Lencioni. Adil Benjilany is a hot young prospect who is sitting at 5-1 on a five-fight win streak. As a Muay Thai/kickboxing specialist, Benjilany has an exciting and very technical style. We sat down with “Gloryboy” before his fight this weekend.
Every fighter has a start in MMA. Adil’s story begins with his family. “My family got me involved first. I started kickboxing and Muay Thai back in Morocco, and it’s huge back home,” says Adil Benjilany.
“Moroccan kickboxers are the best in the world.”
“We go to Thailand and fight there,” Benjilany says. It was the best kickboxers in the world that inspired him, led first by his brother. “My brother, who is seven years older than me, got me involved in martial arts. I think I was 10, so eighteen years ago.” Adil has been fighting for a while. With over 30 amateur kickboxing bouts, he’s seen a lot early on in his career
In his first ever professional fight, Benjilany was handed a loss. No fighter wants to start out 0-1, but it didn’t phase Adil. He has since rattled off five straight wins, including his first two fights in Bellator.
“I think that first fight was a mistake. I took 18 months off, I was not training. It was all wrong and it was a wrong decision to take that fight. It was at 155. I was not training. I took on one of the best guys too. The commission approved the fight, but I think the fight was three rounds and I lost a decision. I think I did better than I should have. I had three amateur MMA fights and I had no training. It made me better and stronger. It proved to me that I can do it and that I’m going to be good at it.”
What he says is true. With his last amateur fight in January of 2014, his next fight was in September of 2015. He’s stayed busy since then. Now in Bellator, looks to continue to rise up the featherweight ranks.
His last fight was finished with a nasty knockout in the second round. While, Adil Benjilany is no stranger to finishes, this one he credited his corner.
“The last fight, I went in relaxed. I had to listen to my corner. I wanted to feel out the first round, I wanted to punch and I wanted to kick,” says Adil. “Then I went back to my corner and my coaches said, ‘Hey, you should have stopped him. I think this will work. Don’t just go with one strike, go with two or three. Just stand in there.’ He was coming in and got caught with a hook then I just went for it with kicks. It was all my corner, it was a team job.”
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 7, 2019
With his upcoming fight, Adil is full steam ahead in his camp. But, it’s never about the opponent. It’s about being the best fighter he can be, training to his strengths.
“I don’t really prepare for one particular fight. Even outside the camp, I train all the time. It’s nothing really special that we did. I focus on myself and I try to get better as a martial artist. I just want to be prepared everywhere, on the feet, on the ground. We’ve done a lot of grappling, a lot of jiu-jitsu. We’re always adding new stuff to my arsenal. We are just preparing for everything.”
It’s hard to ignore the main event of this card. Chandler and Patricio are two of the biggest stars in the promotion’s roster. Benjilany weighed in on the main event:
“It’s a tough one. I think Michael Chandler is physically bigger. But I think Pitbull has a lot of experience and he can fight for five rounds. I think I would have to go with Michael Chandler.”