Bellator 291: Jena Bishop’s Goal Is the Belt, Doesn’t Want to Waste Any Time Getting There


Multi-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Jena Bishop makes her promotional debut at Bellator 291 this Saturday, and a lot of eyes will be on the grappling star.

Flyweight Bishop (4-0) has spent the entirety of her MMA career thus far under the LFA banner, arguably the biggest promotion on the regional scene. Now, she’s taking the next step, facing Elina Kallionidou, a fighter with far more experience— in mixed martial arts anyway.

On the ground? Well, the scouting report is simple: don’t roll with Jena Bishop. The 36-year old black belt under JW Wright took first place at the IBJJF World No-Gi Championship in 2017 and first place at the ADCC EC USA Trials in 2019. Overall, she’s an eight-time Pan and ten-time World medalist, and won the IBJJF World Masters Championship, both at her weight and absolute.

All of that means that her striking is likely to be tested no matter who she’s facing. “Yeah for sure. Two of my opponents were Judo girls, and that was their strength, so I thought ‘oh yeah, for sure they’re going to try and throw me, try to get it to the ground’ because they want to use their judo,” Bishop told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “I learned really quickly that that was not the case, because they didn’t think that they wanted to go to the ground with me.”

“I can’t expect that anyone is going to want to, so for sure, I need to have my hands sufficient enough to get me there,” she added.

Any number of grapplers have fallen in love with striking over the years, which can be a double-edged sword at times. For Bishop, she’s having fun, but not losing sight of her strengths.

“I’m having fun with it. I don’t hate it. I think at first, I was like, ‘can we just be on the ground? It’s so much more fun, and punching on the ground is a lot of fun too,'” she explained. “The more comfortable I get with it, the more I’m liking it. But you do see a lot of grapplers that fall too in love with it almost, where they stray from their strengths.”

Bishop has seen just that with plenty of jiu-jitsu athletes making the transition to MMA. “I think that’s where I’m trying to just stay focused and have fun with the striking stuff and get myself as good as I can, but not lose sight of what I’m best at.”

It should be no surprise then to hear that her prediction for the Kallionidou fight is a submission, sometime in the first or second round. And if all goes well, she wants to stay busy. “I want to be the best, I want to get an opportunity to get the belt. That’s ultimately my goal, so I don’t want to waste any time doing it. My path is just to fight as much as I can, as often as I can, to get me there.”

She won’t be making any callouts, mind you. While some of those around her are encouraging her to do just that, Bishop admits that while she’s been watching the flyweight division, she hasn’t been watching it enough to be comfortable calling any names. “I’m just ready for whoever they put in front of me.” And, she added, “I also don’t want to sound so arrogant to say [any names]. I just started, I have to get through this first, this is my first fight with Bellator. After I get through this then maybe I’ll start thinking about that a little more.”

A better option might be for others to call her out, especially if she makes a big impression Saturday. “I mean, I feel like that’s a good way to go. I would love for people to want to fight me, that would be great. As long as my name keeps getting brought up, that’s gonna only elevate my career and my rise to the top.”

Watch our full interview with Bellator 291 flyweight Jena Bishop above.


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