Jaylon Bates turned a few heads when he told Cageside Press ahead of Bellator 274 that he’d previously turned down a ranked opponent, and wanted more “chicken” to fight guys in the top ten.
Then again, the fight game is not an easy way to make a living. It’s hard to begrudge any fighter looking out for his own bottom line— though Bates expanded on the subject during this week’s media day, telling us that ultimately, he’d leave the decision up to coach Antonio McKee.
Bates (4-0) called upcoming foe Chris Disonell a “good opponent,”, but admitted that he didn’t know much about him. “I don’t look into my opponents too much,” Bates revealed. “But a good opponent, and we’re going to go handle business and have us a fight on Saturday.”
And when it comes to who he’s fighting, it boils down to “whatever my coach wants to do, honestly,” Bates added. “You’ve seen what he’s done with A.J. [McKee]. So I’m letting my coach captain the ship on that one. I don’t really care who I fight, but if they want me to fight top-ranked opponents, yeah I need more chicken. But I do like the match-up this weekend.”
Of course, Bates could just go in there, make a statement, and look at re-working his contract, but it all may boil down to the moment. “Make a statement, or not. I might just take him down and just submit him, I don’t know,” he stated. “It depends on how I feel when I get in there. But we’re going to come out with the Dub, that’s for sure. And he’s not making it all three.”
Bates had a big year in 2021, fighting three times, and maintaining his undefeated record. He’s hoping to up that pace in 2022.
“I actually want four fights. I like to fight, I’m willing to even keep my pay the same to fight more,” Bates told us. “I just want to fight more, get to walk constant, constant experience being in the cage, being around the Bellator team, being in the hotels, managing the weight, cutting the weight— as an amateur, I fought a lot in one year, except when I was a champion.”
As an amateur champ, Bates fought twice in a year — but these days, “every two months, three months, that would be perfect,” he said. “If I could get four in this year from Bellator, that would be a blessing. But if not, I’m not complaining either. They’re doing a hell of a job with me.”
Bates would later compare Team Bodyshop coach McKee to “a diamond in the rough.” And, he noted, the gym isn’t for everyone.
“A lot of people come to the gym, man, and not a lot of people stay. That’s another thing,” Bates said. “The gym is for those that want to be great, and also just better themselves as an overall, individual human being. So it’s a really great fit for me.”
Watch the full Bellator 274 media scrum with Jaylon Bates above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 19, 2022 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. More coverage from Thursday’s media day can be found below.