Ahead of his title eliminator with Magomed Magomedov at Bellator 264, Raufeon Stots feels a Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix
In all of MMA, including Bellator, the bantamweight division appears to be one of the deepest and most talented.
Raufeon Stots is one of those Bellator names who is at the top of their bantamweight ranks, and he has a great opportunity to come Bellator 264 when he and Magomed Magomedov face off in a fight that could very well help determine the first challenger for the new Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis.
The rest of Bellator’s top 10 at 135, as of August 10, also shows how the division is stacked. Former champion Juan Archuleta will want to recover the belt. Patchy Mix and James Gallagher are expected to fight later this year. There are veteran talents like Leandro Higo, young talents like Cass Bell and even another former champion in Darrion Caldwell.
And Stots, with his high ranking, and even with his friend and training partner as a champion, isn’t afraid to fight them all.
In fact, in an exclusive interview with FanSided MMA, Stots took it a step further and proposed that the bantamweight be awarded to the next edition of the Bellator Grand Prix, believing that this can be put in place to his advantage.
“I will fight anyone; I’m ready to fight them all, ”Stots told FanSided MMA. “In my head, I want to fight them all. I feel like if we could do a Grand Prix tournament, that’s the best scenario for me… because then I can take out as many as I can.
“I think that’s the next step, I think. There’s a lot of talent coming in, they’ve got a lot of guys, a lot of names. So let’s put them all in the mix and see who comes out on top. “
Raufeon Stots fights to fight anyone, says Patchy Mix and James Gallagher did not accept his calls
Of course, despite Stots’ anticipation against Magomedov, which has already been briefly delayed once, it’s not a lock that the winner will be named as the next challenger for the title.
Mix and Gallagher will face off at Bellator 269 in November, after pushing back a Bellator 258 goal in May due to a Gallagher injury.
Mix fell just short of the bantamweight championship at Bellator 246 in September, where he abandoned a decision at Archuleta for the vacant belt. Meanwhile, SBG Ireland member Gallagher is a heavily pushed name in Bellator, and he has his fan base.
It might not be a stretch to believe that Bellator can take the winner of Mix-Gallagher to winner of Stots-Magomedov in the title photo. But Stots feels that Mix or Gallagher skips him, let alone one of them skips Magomedov, is illogical.
Stots further claimed that Mix and Gallagher, especially the former, dodged his challenges.
“[Magomedov] will be my third guy that I fought in the Bellator top 10. Magomedov, with his experience – I don’t think he fought anyone in the top 10, but he fought, you know people in the best organizations, like the UFC champions. So I feel like it should be [for] the place of competitor n ° 1, if there are fights. As far as Gallagher and Patchy go, I’m not too impressed with the people they beat. I called them several times, and they denied a fight with me. So, I really don’t feel like they deserve to be number one contenders.
“After this Josh Hill fight, I literally approached [Mix] face to face and I was like, “Hey, what’s going on man? What are you doing next ? I try to fight. He told me he was trying to fight. Gallagher, but if Bellator gave me his name or whatever, he would fight me. But also, he was like, ‘I could [take the fight] at that time because they said it wouldn’t be for a title. It’s not what I heard, but whatever.
Stots was last in action on the previously mentioned Bellator 258 card, scoring a unanimous victory over Josh Hill. While it wasn’t the most well-received fight online, Stots says what mattered was that he got the job done – and the damage done was more than it looks.
“I was very happy with my performance,” said Stots. “I stuck with a game plan that really frustrated Josh Hill. I mean, they didn’t realize I broke his arm, opened it up, dealt a lot of damage, and suffered virtually no damage. So I’m happy, my family is happy, my cousins are happy, so that’s about all that matters.
Now all eyes are on Stots and Magomedov, two wrestlers with their own styles and tendencies, to fight with potential title shot in a loaded division on the line.
“I’m just looking at where he’s going with this, and that’s like a big part of my game. If I know what they want, we can kind of build a game plan around that,” said Stots. “It was just about figuring out the Sambo wrestling and Dagestan MMA wrestling and then pulling them apart and seeing what works and what doesn’t work against that. A lot of the things I have done are actually beneficial in fighting a Sambo wrestler.
“On the hitting side, I feel like I should have the advantage. I don’t feel his hitting is very conducive to his style of wrestling. I feel like he’s hitting or struggling, which is good for me. And that’s how I feel like the fight is going to play out, much like Josh Hill’s fight. I feel like he’ll soon figure out that I’m not that easy to get to or that I’m not that easy to take down, and, coming into that, I hope he thinks that he is going to knock me down or that he is going to gas me or push me to death. I’m excited because I hope if this happens it will be a short night for him. If he runs, and if I’m the bully like I usually am in fights, then he’ll last longer but I’ll get the W.