Few free agent signings have caught the attention of the MMA world like that of Magomed Magomedov landing in Bellator MMA.
The bantamweight is the only fighter to hold a win over current UFC 135lb champ Petr Yan. The pair actually split a pair of fights under the ACB banner in 2016 and 2017. Magomedov won the first, Yan had his hand raised in the rematch.
At Bellator 254, Magomedov (16-1) makes his promotional debut — for an organization that ensures a rubber match with Yan will not be forthcoming any time soon. Yet that was still the first question out of the gate at the Bellator 254 media day on Tuesday. Yan understands that, but he also pointed out that “people just focus on the one fight that I lost, which by the way was a very close fight. But people are forgetting that I also beat him. And both fights were very exciting.”
Both went the distance, with the ACB bantamweight championship on the line. “I have 16 victories against top opponents. I’ve never had easy fights, I’ve never had a gimmie fight. All the guys I’ve beaten are top guys,” added Magomedov, who went on to suggest that it’s the same situation for Yan. After all, the UFC champ’s only loss is to Magomedov.
The task at hand this week, however, is Matheus Mattos. The pair have traveled in similar circles, as the Brazilian is also a veteran of ACB. Earlier at Tuesday’s Bellator 254 media day, Mattos claimed that Magomedov had messaged him when the two competed on the same card earlier in their careers. He suggested that the Russian fighter had been “worried” about him early on.
So was Mattos someone Magomedov was keeping an eye on, back in the day? Not quite, he told Cageside Press. “I wasn’t really keeping an eye on him. What happened is, I heard that ACB signed a top prospect from Brazil,” revealed Magomedov. “At the time, he was 10-0. What I wrote him in a message was ‘hey, you’re going to lose that 0.’ Which he did, and then he left. So I was right.”
With the pair’s placement on the Bellator 254 card and increased interest in Magomedov’s debut, there’s a chance this fight could fast track the winner to title contention. That’s not something Magomedov is worrying about at the moment, however.
“I don’t want to look past Matheus Mattos. He’s a very tough opponent, he’s very experienced, he’s beaten some really good guys,” Magomedov stated. “So right now I’m just focused on beating him. Then once I win this fight, then Bellator can decided where that puts me in title contention.”
Watch the full Bellator 254 virtual media day press scrum with Magomed Magomedov above. Bellator 254 goes down this Thursday, December 10 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The main card airs live on CBS Sports Network following prelims that can be found on Cageside Press.