Business is starting to pick up in Bellator MMA’s heavyweight division, and this weekend at Bellator 271, there’s a high-stakes match-up between two top contenders, Tyrell Fortune and Linton Vassell. With Fortune ranked fifth and Vassell right behind him, this match-up could represent a potential title eliminator, with the winner possibly moving on to fight for the belt, or if not, at least in a fight or two.
With his lone professional loss coming to Tim Johnson, Tyrell Fortune (11-1) has a lot of talent, potential, and investment in the division, enough so that he feels he’ll find himself competing for a title shot sooner rather than later. In an interview with Cageside Press, Fortune discussed what drives him to fight and how he feels about the state of the heavyweight division.
His last name is fitting. Fortune is a man who is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, and says he wants to fight as often as possible throughout his career because simply, he loves making money. Heading into this fight against Vassell, Fortune believes the top of the mountain is quickly approaching for the winner.
“100%, I think this is a title contention fight. I think whoever wins this fight will be either fighting for the belt or one fight away from fighting for the belt. This fight will put me right there ready for that.”
While 7 of the Top-10 ranked heavyweights in the division have two losses or less, Tyrell Fortune is only focused on those ahead of him, saying he doesn’t feel the division is that packed with talent.
“Honestly, I think it’s not that packed with talent, to be honest. Two of the guys in bottom of the top-10 haven’t even fought five times yet and they haven’t fought any competition yet. When you look past those two guys, at the top seven, six guys, we have some of the toughest guys in the company. That competition right there is really good, I’m really excited to see what happens in the future. I’m definitely more excited now to see that [Ryan] Bader has to come back and defend that belt.”
Not only does his last name Fortune resemble what he’s working for the most, but it is a name shared with his brother Tyree, who competes in the ultra-tough light heavyweight division. Acknowledging that their bond is special and he’s able to learn from his brother fighting as well, Tyrell Fortune also said that one of his main motivators is the money he’s making, to help provide a good life and future for his family.
“Money. honestly, money. I’m not in this game for, I could give a sh*t about legacy or anything like that, I want money. To be able to provide for my family and be able to provide a life for myself, overall. I’ve wrestled my whole life so the physicality doesn’t bother me.”
Although he’s considered a top contender and there’s plenty of eyes on Tyrell Fortune every time he fights, he says he seeks out bad days in the gym so he has lessons to learn from and grow upon.
“I’m actually the kind of guy, I look for bad days. I ask my coach all the time to find someone to whoop my ass in practice. Because I know the more I get my ass whooped in practice, the better I’m going to become and the less opportunity I’m going to present for another guy to do it in the cage. So I look for that adversity in practice.”
Knowing the stakes are high heading into his fight at Bellator 271, Tyrell Fortune also recognizes his opponent’s experience inside the cage, and acknowledges the competition that will be brought to him by Linton Vassell.
“Linton is a great fighter, he has 30+ fights under his record, so he’s going to bring good competition to the cage. I’m actually really excited to test myself again and see where it goes but I just think I’m more than what he can handle.”
Understanding the stakes at hand heading into Bellator 271, Tyrell Fortune will continue to rack up money every fight, and if the trajectory of his career continues to rise, he’ll be on the short-list of title contenders who could find themselves in a title fight in 2022.