Bellator 254: Justin Sumter Believes He’ll Be “the Toughest Test of Romero Cotton’s Career”

Justin Sumter
Justin Sumter Credit: Mike McClory/Cageside Press

DWCS veteran Justin Sumter is looking for a long term home with Bellator MMA.

Justin Sumter is excited to return to the cage for the first time in over a year this week. Last appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) in July of 2019, Sumter is set to face a familiar foe in Romero Cotton at Bellator 254. Cotton and Sumter were scheduled to fight back in March at Bellator 241 before the coronavirus pandemic would shut down the world for the following months. Sumter is happy that is all behind him, and looks forward to the future, and hopefully a home in Bellator.

“I’m excited, it was a tease back in March,” Sumter laughed. “That face off in March has been instilled in my head, I want to redeem that last loss. The way they [Bellator] worded my contract was they have a lot of interest in me,” Sumter told Cageside Press. “It’s more of a go out there and perform and then we will get a deal done.”

The Massachusetts native is 7-3 professionally, and has been a top prospect in the New England region for some time now. After getting two shots on DWCS, Sumter is still one of the top prospects in the middleweight division. Sumter was asked about added pressure when, essentially, a multi-fight deal is on the line in this performance.

“I kind of just don’t worry about it,” Sumter stated. “There is pressure in everything, any job you are doing. It’s more about how you deal with it in my mind. Granted there is that want to perform well and showcase my skills,” Sumter continued. “I put pressure on myself either way, to drive to be better, be the best I can.”

The Nick Newell pupil over at FAA (Fighting Arts Academy) has always learned throughout his professional career. It was his losses on the Contender Series that taught him more focus, and to train his mental game as much as his physical game. Having a coach like Nick Newell has made this an easy process.

“[Newell] has the mentality of ‘you are going to work hard,” Sumter stated. “If something doesn’t go right, then we work harder. Having a coach like that in my corner, just reiterates the drive and to keep pushing forward constantly.”

This is the second time that Sumter has been matched with Cotton, but the first time that the fight will take place. Cotton is a world class, collegiate wrestler who currently sits at 4-0 (all fights under Bellator). Even with a high level background in wrestling, Sumter believes his skill set matches well with Cotton.

“He’s a little one dimensional,” Sumter explained. “It’s been some time since his last fight so I’m sure he has worked on his skills. There will be a takedown here or there, but I’m a brown belt, me being on my back doesn’t scare me, I can get up.”

Sumter feels this fight plays to his strong suit. Although, Bellator has pushed Cotton’s name since his entrance into the sport as one of the top young athletes on the roster. Sumter knows he may be considered the underdog, it doesn’t bother him in the slightest.

“I like being the underdog, I like it a lot,” Sumter exclaimed. “People can watch and be surprised, they won’t see it coming. It’s enjoyable seeing the posts about how much of a monster Cotton is, I’ve fought plenty of monsters in my career,” Sumter continued. “This is just a fight, it’ll be the toughest test of Romero Cotton’s career.”