Bellator middleweight contender Johnny Eblen is not feeling any added pressure ahead of his title challenge this Friday.
In the main event of Bellator 282, Eblen will look to dethrone one of the world’s top middleweights, Gegard Mousasi. The former UFC star is in the midst of his second reign in the Bellator cage and has already defended the belt twice since capturing the vacant 185-pound belt with a victory over Douglas Lima in 2020.
Having added the first blemish to Austin Vanderford’s record earlier this year, Mousasi will look to accomplish a similar feat when he shares the cage with Eblen at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena tomorrow night.
Like Vanderford, Eblen will enter his championship opportunity with a perfect 11-0 professional résumé. But while the pressure perhaps got too much for “The Gentleman,” who was finished inside one round, Eblen isn’t concerned about replicating that.
During a pre-fight interaction with the media, Eblen rejected the narrative that his upcoming collision with Mousasi feels any different to his previous fights, suggesting that the title fight is a natural progression for his career.
“I get a lot of questions like, ‘Hey, does it feel too much,’ Like, nah, it’s just higher stakes, same sh*t… It feels like the right step, it feels like nothing has really changed too much,” said Eblen. “If anything, I’m just fighting a little bit later, fighting a few more rounds, and fighting a better guy. That’s normal when you move up.”
Eblen: Mousasi Will Be Facing A “Different Animal”
With that, Eblen is incredibly confident that he can upset the odds on Friday and hand Mousasi his eight career loss in what will be his 59th appearance.
After admitting it’ll feel good to showcase his talents on the main-event stage and silence his detractors, “The Human Cheat Code” assured the champ that he’ll be sharing the cage with a “different animal” come fight night.
“It’s gonna put my name on the map, so it’s kinda nice. I get to shut some haters up… Solidify my name,” said Eblen. “People are gonna be like, ‘Damn, Johnny’s legit.’ … This my craft, and I’m putting my craft on this stage for everybody to see… Showcasing my craft on such a high-level guy, and executing things, it’s gonna feel good for me to do.
“I have a lot of tools on my tool belt, and I can’t wait to utilize all these tools when I go out there,” Eblen continued. “It’s gonna be a different fight stylistically (to Mousasi vs. Vanderford)… I’m a different animal.”
Do you think Johnny Eblen has what it takes to dethrone Gegard Mousasi?