Taking on fellow bantamweight Keith Lee in a 140lb catchweight fight at Bellator 265, Jornel Lugo made a statement on Friday night.
The talented 25-year old choked out Lee in the dying seconds of the opening round of their main card opener, earning his first stoppage in the promotion. Improving to 7-0 with the win, Lugo looks like a lock for a proposed bantamweight grand prix — though he’s hoping to get one more fight in this year.
Lugo is eyeing the promotion’s November 5 card in Ireland next, an event which features a high-profile bantamweight match-up between James Gallagher and Patchy Mix. “There’s another guy from that gym other there [SBG Ireland], I’m not going to give him any hype, but he said he’s looking for a fight on that same exact card,” Lugo told media outlets including Cageside Press following the event. “He’s a bantamweight. So let’s see. If the taxes are not too high over there, maybe I can go over there. I gotta go get my passport, and we can make that fight happen.”
While Lugo’s not going to give him any hype, it’s no secret that Ireland’s Brian Moore is looking to get on the card. “The Pikeman” recently dropped to bantamweight, defeating Jordan Winski late last month.
With the prospect of the 135lb tournament looming, it felt like a finish was more important than ever on Friday. Lugo agreed with that notion.
“Definitely. To me it’s important. I’ve been wanting to go for finishes, but it’s just trying to find that balance between being composed, and also looking for stoppages. So tonight, I said ‘You know what, I’m going to look for the stoppage at the same time while I’m composed and being smart,'” Lugo explained. “It’s very important for me to find that stoppage. If I could get the stoppage every time I would, but the first thing that’s most important is coming home with that W.”
When the featherweight bout between Jay Jay Wilson and Adam Borics fell through a day prior to Bellator 265, it felt like Lugo and Lee might get a chance to move up. Instead, the honor went to hometown fave Logan Storley — an understandable choice, but a far less exciting scrap.
“That would have been cool if I’d got that spot. but you know how it goes: You become a pro, start off on the prelims, then you go to the main card, then you go to the big show, start off on the prelims again, then you go to the main card,” Lugo said when asked about the slight. “You start from the bottom, and you work your way up.”
“I’m not somebody who cares to skip my way all the to the top,” he continued. “I like to take my time, I’ll get to the main event, and when that tournament starts, I’ll be the main event and the co-main event the whole time.”
Watch the full Bellator 265 post-fight press scrum with Jornel Lugo above.