Following Bellator 249, Leandro Higo has his sights set high. On gold, if he can get it. On a top name in the bantamweight division if not.
Higo (20-5), a former title challenger, submitted Ricky Bandejas at the event in Uncasville, CT. That made it two in a row for the Brazilian. On the down side, he missed weight. But that’s something he addressed via social media, saying that flight delays had complicated his weight cut.
Nothing seemed to dampen his spirits post-fight. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press, Higo said via coach Eric Albarracin that “I came in as a prospect. I fought the best, I had a big promise when I came it, that was to become world champion. And now this division is on fire. Put me in the fire against anybody in the cage!”
Perhaps alluding to a potential showdown with Ireland’s James Gallagher, noted for his submission skills, Higo went on to say that “everybody thinks, when I first game in, that I’m a striker. But I actually came from grappling. So anybody that thinks they’ve got hands and grappling, put them against me. I’m like a snake.”
“Ever since I came to Bellator, I was thrown to the lions. But they wouldn’t throw me to the wolves if I wasn’t a wolf,” he added. “Now [Juan] Archuleta is up there. I am right at the cusp. I’m ready to jump all the way in and get this next title shot. I’ve grown a lot since the last time I fought for the title, and this time it will be different.”
The title and Gallagher both appeal to the Brazilian. “I’ve been chasing this motherf*cker ever since he came into Bellator,” he said of Ireland’s “StrabAnimal,” exclaiming that “if he’s really good at jiu-jitsu, you’ve seen my jiu-jitsu skills my last two fights. Let’s go James Gallagher!”
Adding in a bit of MMA math, Higo noted that Gallagher “took an ass-whooping when he fought Ricky Bandejas, and I took out Ricky Bandejas like it was nothing.” That, he said, is “exactly what’s going to happen when I fight James Gallagher.”
When asked if he had a preference, however, Higo admitted that “I want that title shot. If I don’t get the title shot, I want the Irish chicken James Gallagher.”
There are other interesting match-ups out there, of course. On Brett Johns, the latest addition to Bellator’s bantamweight division, Higo said only that “every time a UFC fighter has come over, he’s taken an L.”
Watch the full Bellator 249 post-fight press conference with Leandro Higo above.