Bellator 290: Jornel Lugo Says First Pro Loss Was “Important,” Led to Adjustments

Jornel Lugo returns to the Bellator cage tonight at Bellator 290 following a near nine-month lay off.

There, he’ll be met by Jaylon Bates (6-0), an undefeated bantamweight prospect looking to make a name for himself with a statement victory in what will likely be his toughest test to date in his professional MMA career. Lugo (8-1), however, is coming off of his first ever defeat at the hands of Danny Sabatello, and is eager to start 2023 off on the right foot by getting back into the win column. 

“It was important that I lost the way I did,” Lugo told Cageside Press recently. “Had I lost a close fight, I might not have made all of the adjustments that I needed to make. I’ve changed a lot and improved a lot, you’ll see Saturday night.”

Lugo seems to improve after each time he sets foot in the cage, and enters this match-up with Bates exuding confidence and positive energy. Despite being a heavy betting favorite, he knows better than to overlook the young and hungry Bates.

“Bates has heart, he’s explosive, funky – doing things in there that might not always look technical or sharp on the feet. He has the will to win, he’s a good fighter, so this is going to be a good match-up.”

It’s been nine months since Lugo last stepped into the cage, though he expects to be much more active in 2023. 

“I want three fights this year. The third one will get me back into the rankings,” Lugo said.

Journel Lugo faces Jaylon Bates at Bellator 290 on February 4, 2023 at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, California.