Everything is clicking for undefeated Bellator 298 bantamweight Jaylon Bates ahead of his return to action this Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“This fight camp has been one of my easiest fight camps that I’ve had in a while, since I would say my amateur days,” Bates (7-0) told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview ahead of his fight with TUF champ Enrique Barzola. “And it’s just been discipline. A lot of discipline and consistency. Nothing’s changed but my diet, and my strength and conditioning. That’s it. Other than that, everything’s been the same. I’m sharp in the gym, sharp on the pads, sharp in sparring. So when we fight next Friday, it’ll be fireworks. I think people will be impressed.”
Barzola is a UFC and now Bellator veteran who won The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2 in 2015. It feels like a logical next step for Bates, and a step up in competition — one he feels is perfect.
“I see it as not even a big step up, I think it’s a good step. I think it’s the perfect step for my career,” suggested Bates. “We go out there and finish him, I think it’s a testament just to how good I am, and how great I’m going to be. I think he’s a good opponent, but I’m just better.”
With his last opponent, Jornel Lugo, and Barzola both having taken part in Bellator’s recently completed bantamweight grand prix, Bates sees a trend. “I don’t know who’s next, but we go out there, we’re 8-0, whoever is next, they might be in the grand prix. So we’ll just keep it going. It’ll be my own grand prix.”
In comparison to Lugo, who Bates believes didn’t do enough to engage him, “New Breed” believes Barzola will come forward at Bellator 298. And that suits him just fine.
“I see him definitely just walking into something. Walking into a few things. He’s a go-forward fighter, he’s a pressure fighter, and those are the type of fights I like. Because they’re easier to set up. This is going to be about setups, this is going to be about traps, and it’s going to be about just dominating anywhere the fight goes.”
Speaking of that “New Breed” nickname, we asked Jaylon Bates what it means to him to be a new breed of fighter. “My fighting style, my personality, my walk in this game is just new. There’s not many fighters like me who went straight [from] amateurs and didn’t have to go to the little promotions,” replied Bates. “I went straight from amateurs into a major promotion in America, in the world actually. Not a lot of fighters can do that. The fact that I did that, I’m the new breed. I’m different, I know I’m different, I know I’m great, and I’m going to go in there and just prove it.”
Bates is getting more comfortable fight by fight, and he and his coach believe “it’s about the mindset. Everybody at this level is already good. They’re strong, they can punch hard, they’re technical, they have everything. But the difference that separates everyone is their mindset. And so as I became a father and as I’ve taken my craft more seriously, I see that mindset, I see that beast. And I’m working every day to become it.”
Watch our full interview with Bellator 298 bantamweight Jaylon Bates above. The event takes place this Friday, August 11, 2023 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the Sanford Pentagon.