On December 28, Bellator heads to Saitama, Japan, with a stacked fight card. Headlining the card is Fedor Emelianenko, who has the opportunity to return to winning ways when he battles fellow powerhouse Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Returning to the Land of the Rising Sun will be a long-awaited homecoming for both warriors, who have been tasked with putting on a show for the fans.
Sidney Outlaw, a rapidly rising Bellator lightweight, will also compete on the same night as the two legends. Outlaw has been assigned the co-main event slot along with Michael Chandler, a three-time world champion who recently lost his title.
Fighting the promotion’s greatest ever 155-pound athlete is undoubtedly a step up in competition, however, it is a challenge Outlaw welcomes wholeheartedly. He spoke to The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko about the fight and what fans should expect come December 28.
Fighting Michael Chandler
A little over a month ago, Sidney Outlaw (14-3) sat in his hotel room in Tel Aviv, Israel, just days away from the fight of his life against veteran Roger Huerta. Pre-fight nerves compiled with the already hectic stresses of fight week weighed heavy, nonetheless, more obstacles stood in the path of the surging lightweight before he would even step foot inside the cage.
“There was a bombing so everything got shut down,” Outlaw said.
“We were trying to find a sauna to cut weight on Saturday, but everything shut’s down on Saturday. It is just different over there. Water has sodium in it – every thing has sodium in it because it gets so hot over there – there were so many obstacles but the people there were great and Bellator had a great time.”
Despite a bomb threat, the event went ahead as planned and proved extremely popular in Israel, with many of the country’s own competing and walking away with victories.
Along with exciting performances from the Israeli talent, Sidney Outlaw was able to showcase his skills and grappling expertise as he earned a one-sided unanimous decision win. Although the 27-year-old won every round of the contest, he was slightly disappointed with his performance.
“I was having a bad day that day,” Outlaw explained. “I ate a lot of cheeseburgers, so the muscle built up and lactic acid went up. I mean, it wasn’t bad from me but it wasn’t the best performance I’ve ever had. [I’ve] definitely had better.”
In spite of the fact he thought his performance was bad, “Da Gun” extended his winning streak to nine. Just days after his dismantling of Roger Huerta, Outlaw received a call gifting an opportunity that was too good to refuse; he was asked whether or not he’d take a short notice fight against one of the best 155-pounders on the planet. Not only does he have the chance to defeat Michael Chandler come December 28, but he may also elevate his career to the next level.
“He’s clearly one of the best, I’m going to go in there and test myself. What he has done for the sport [you cannot question], the same thing with Roger [Huerta], you can’t really give them a compliment. What can I give them, you know? I can give them a challenge, but that’s about it. They’re legends, they’ve done so much.”
“I’m going to go in there and do what I normally do, which is my best. With Bellator, I’m going to have to properly reintroduce myself, because my last performance wasn’t the best. I’m going to have to go in there a little different.”
A win over Michael Chandler will likely see Sidney Outlaw fly up the rankings, and he may become the promotion’s number one contender.
When asked about potentially being ranked #1, the Pennsylvania native revealed that he doesn’t care too much, because, in his mind, he is already the best.
“You know what I am? I am the number one contender. I don’t really care about all that, I want [to fight] everybody. The reason why I don’t care about all that is because I work too hard to care about any of that. I know the truth.”
December 28 marks Bellator and RIZIN’s final event of the year, as the two promotions pitch a wide array of talent to compete with one another in the historic Saitama Super Arena. Bellator’s Sidney Outlaw will be in search of his tenth straight victory when he squares off with former champion “Iron” Michael Chandler.
“Wherever he’s lacking, we’re going to violate,” Outlaw said. “I’m going to focus on myself because I know what Chandler’s going to bring.”
Because the event’s date is close to the PFL Championship Finals, many usual coaches are unable to make the trip to Japan to corner the 27-year-old, prompting the task of finding a select few to travel with him.
“[I’m bringing] King Mo, but we’re still looking for some people. Everybody is so busy because a lot of people have the PFL, so I just gotta be patient right now. My coaches told me to take this fight because obviously this is a great opportunity and we have to take every opportunity we get.”
For Sidney Outlaw, training rigorously doesn’t just make him a better fighter, but a better person. For the up and coming lightweight, it is more than just adding another W to his record, or collecting a hefty paycheck – he aims to inspire people from all different backgrounds and prove that if he can make it, they can too.
“I want a little kid to look at me and be like he did it, I can do it too. I want to be like that, and it’s not hard. You find something you want and you go work harder towards it.”
“In 2020 I just want to inspire one person, hopefully, its closer to 10,000, but one person, just to go for a job or just do something – instead of going left all the time they make a right, because of me. That’s it. That’s all I want, one person.”
“So 2020, besides me being the champion that I already am, I want to help change somebody’s life.”
Steven specialises in MMA and Lethwei. He loves a good 1-2 down the middle.