Raufeon Stots will take on Cass Bell at Bellator 242. The high stakes bantamweight bout goes down Friday, July 24. The card is Bellator MMA’s return event after the COVID-19 hiatus, and takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Stots (13-1) has established momentum from his victorious promotional debut at Bellator 236. He now looks to continue that traction by handing Bell his first professional loss.
With coronavirus concerns being such a ubiquitous thing, Bellator certainly did their due diligence to make sure athletes are healthy.
“Pretty much we had a test before we came out here and then we had a test as soon as we got her pretty much, and we got quarantined to the rooms as soon as we got here. It feels really safe and it feels like they really waited until they could get everything together,” he told us recently. “Making sure everything’s safe for the athletes. As far as how it is compared to normal, I’m usually in the room but I’m not confined to the room. So it’s a little different.”
Training with longtime partner and Bellator 242 main eventer Sergio Pettis did not subside during this pandemic however.
“It’s weird too. Me and Sergio train together all the time. Pretty much every day we’re in there,” said Stots. “Our team is not that big at Roufusport. I feel like it’s already a quarantined group. Everybody on the team is pretty close knit. So now coming here, even though we’ve been training together for a couple weeks.”
Stots continued, saying “coming here we’ve got to be quarantined away from each other. My corner is all in rooms and Sergio is in a separate room. So that’s kind of weird. Like we’re on Fornite and Playstation together but we can’t really interact with each other until everybody gets their test back.”
Discussing his training, Stots explained that “at Roufousport, we do a lot of self improving. We throw a lot of things at each other.” These Roufusport improvements are beyond physical and teammates are also able to help with mental/ emotional growth too.
Emmanuel Sanchez, a Roufusport teammate, provided some great insights during the pandemic period to Stots. Just being patient and realizing that the promotion would come back once everything is safe and good to go.
Stots’ aforementioned Bellator debut was one that went smoothly in a few regards. “I felt super welcome. Felt super blessed to fight on the main card, the first fight. I felt I was meant to be there. Meant to be at the top for a while. I felt comfortable; felt good.” His performance was good as well, he noted. “I went out there and controlled.”
Bellator 242 opponent Cass Bell is riding a five-fight win streak in the Bellator cage and has yet to taste defeat as a pro-MMA fighter. His skill set is one that Stots will be familiarized with leading into the card.
“I usually check out the fighter for myself you know. So I’ve checked out a bunch of his fights and I’m a fan of his,” said Stots. “He’s a great fighter and I just feel like I’ve been in tougher fights. I’ve been in tougher situations and I’m just ready to go out there and show it. I feel like I’m levels above where he is but at the same time, every fight is different.”
Stots continued, “I know he’s going to come out there to fight me. Normally when a person signs to fight me, they get up for the fight. So I’m expecting him to bring his best and I’m expecting him to be a tough fight. I think I go out there and dominated like I always do but I definitely think he’s going to come out there with the fire.”
With the bantamweight belt being vacant and the division being wide open yet stacked at the same time, it’s easy for one’s mind to wander. This isn’t necessarily the case for Raufeon Stots though. “It’s a back of my mind kind of thing, but you’ve got to take it one fight at a time. If I look past this guy I’m back to the drawing board.”
“The bantamweight division is an interesting division,” Stots continued. “I feel like they’re signing a lot of people here. They’ve got a lot of prospects coming up. It’s exciting. Nobody’s claimed the bantamweight title. So all of that stuff is super excited but I’m trying to say focused.”
While he has largely been working hard, Stots also enjoyed an edible this year to celebrate 4/20. He had never participated in the 4/20 proceedings in years prior and is admittedly not a smoker. The restorative properties of cannabis is something Stots has gotten into in recent years though.
As Stots looks to smoke the competition at 135 lbs, he has Cass Bell standing in front of him. Only one can emerge victorious on Friday night.