Russian newcomer Nikita Mikhailov will enter a bantamweight grand prix wild card fight on Friday night, stepping into the Bellator 278 card on short notice.
It’s his first fight with the promotion, with Mikhailov (9-1) filling in for Josh Hill against Enrique Barzola. During this week’s Bellator Hawaii media day, Mikhailov noted that just like the rest of the MMA world, he didn’t get much notice for the fight.
“I found out not that long ago myself, but either way I was in shape,” Mikhailov said. “I had a very good camp in Thailand, then Fedor [Emelianenko] called me, and this was an opportunity, so I took it.”
It was, it seems, an opportunity too good to refuse. “I’m very happy to be participating in the grand prix. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity, so I’m going to win this,” Mikhailov exclaimed.
The newcomer isn’t too worried about what Barzola has in mind for the fight — as he plans on sticking to his own game plan. “I don’t really know what’s his plan, what he’s going to bring in this fight,” he said. “All I know is that we have our own plan, and we’re going to stick to this plan.”
Nikita Mikhailov represents Fedor Team, the Russian camp launched by legendary heavyweight Emelianenko. The roster of talent includes champions like Vadim Nemkov and (former Bellator interim heavyweight champ) Valentin Moldavsky.
On that front, Mikhailov said that “I am very proud to be a part of this team, I’m very happy to represent this team. It’s a very strong team. And there’s kind of a little bit of pressure, because you have to keep up with the expectations of that team being extremely [high].”
Watch the full Bellator 278 media day scrum with Nikita Mikhailov above. The event takes place Friday, April 22, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawaii, airing live on Showtime, with prelims right here on Cageside Press. More coverage can be found below.