Bellator 198 marks the continuation of Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix as former UFC Heavyweight champion and former UFC interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir takes on MMA legend former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor ‘the Last Emperor’ Emelianenko.
The main card is a BJJ fan’s heaven as it features BJJ maniacs like Frank Mir, member of the highly renowned Gracie family’s Neiman Gracie and only the second American to win BJJ world championship after BJ Penn in Rafael Lovato Jr. However that’s not enough as the Bellator 198 main card features the much anticipated MMA debut of BJJ superstar Dillon Danis.
“I will own Bellator after this weekend”, said the 24 year old on social media and rightly so as the entire MMA community would be tuning in to watch him make this transition.
Even though Danis has been competing in Jiu Jitsu since 2015,he rose to fame in the MMA community when Conor McGregor brought him in as a training partner for his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in August 2016. Danis seems to have taken a page from the book of Conor McGregor as he looks ready to ‘take over’ Bellator.
“If [heavyweight] Fedor Emelianenko or Frank Mir had to pull out of Saturday’s main event, for whatever reason, I swear to god I would take their place,” Danis told ESPN. “I would jump in a day’s notice.
“I’m not training for Kyle Walker, or anyone else. I’m training to be a world champion. I feel like I am the best in the world, at any weight. When you’re this good, you don’t feel pressure.”
Danis took his camp to SBG Ireland which also serves as a training ground for McGregor. SBG Ireland’s head coach John Kavanagh agrees with the similarities between Danis and McGregor.
“Dillon was one of many jiu-jitsu guys to message me and Conor about working with him,” Kavanagh said. “I don’t really know why Conor responded to him out of them all, but he did. So Dillon showed up.
“They like the same music and the same ‘bling,’ but they are both very competitive. They both have an encyclopedic knowledge of their arts. Name a fighter and Conor can probably tell you exactly how their last few fights went and also what type of gate they sold. Dillon is like this with BJJ, knowing every player’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Kavanagh feels Danis definitely has the skills to back up his words.
“Jiu-jitsu is almost pointless in MMA unless you have a good takedown, and Dillon has solid takedowns,” Kavanagh said. “His striking is developing, but his ground is excellent. He’s like a nasty mix of [Demian] Maia and [Rousimar] Palhares.
“He’s created a media storm around him in the build-up. There’s a lot of financial positives to that, but you have to perform on the night. I believe we’ve prepared as best as we could have. There’s a serenity that comes with knowing you did everything.”
To conclude Danis said, “To be honest, I’m the most popular Bellator fighter coming in right now, so give me a few fights, I’ll be running this. This is very enjoyable. I can see the path to being a world champion. It’s right in front of me. I’m in a beautiful spot. I just have to go out and take it.”