TEMECULA, Calif. – Daniel James appears to be realistic about his chances to get a Bellator heavyweight title shot in the next few months.
Still, that he’s already in the conversation just two fights into his return to the promotion at what in theory should be the tail end of his career is reason to celebrate. James (15-6-1 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) took out Marcelo Golm (10-4 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) in the third round of their Bellator 293 main event this past Friday at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif.
And after the win, James found himself on the microphone – with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader on his feet cageside to applaud his win and presumably to welcome him to the conversation for a potential crack at his belt. Bader is expected to defend his title against Linton Vassell next, but strange things happen in MMA all the time.
“I was respectful. I respect him,” James said at his post-fight news conference. “At the end of the day, we’re two warriors. You come in and you perform, and Ryan Bader is standing up. To see him standing up and applauding, that he would accept what I did …”
If Bader and Vassell indeed are next up, then James wants someone ahead of him in the rankings to make sure he stays in the picture.
James was Bellator’s No. 7 heavyweight after his upset knockout of Tyrell Fortune this past November in his home city of Chicago. Golm was ahead of him at No. 5 – and Fortune was at No. 4 heading into Bellator 293. Almost certainly, James will find himself at No. 4 when the new rankings come out with Steve Mowry at No. 3, Valentin Moldavsky at No. 2 and Vassell as the No. 1 contender for champ Bader.
“I’d like to see to somebody in front of me,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to go backward (in the rankings). Give me (Steve) Mowry or something. He’s a 6-(footer) – I like to fight tall guys.”
And considering Bellator recently announced a return to James’ home city of Chicago for mid-June, that’s precisely when he’d like to find himself fighting again.
You can’t have nothing in Chicago without me. People will be buying tickets. Chicago’s waiting on me in June.
Check out James’ full post-fight interview in the video above.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 293.