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Bellator 184's Steve Kozola ready for big fights – but needs the big money, too


Steve Kozola is ready to break into the elite tier of the Bellator lightweight division. Before he does that, though, he is seeking greater compensation from the organization.

Kozola (8-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) is rising up the divisional ranks and will take another step forward if he can get past Carrington Banks (6-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) on Friday at Bellator 184, which takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., with a main card that airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

With two fights remaining on his current Bellator deal, Kozola said he’s ready to fight out his contract if necessary. However, if he does that, he believes he will continue to get mid-tier competition. In order for him to step in the cage against some of the bigger names at 155 pounds, he said a better deal is in order.

“Under this contract, it’s not reasonable for me, from a business perspective, to fight those top guys,” Kozola told MMAjunkie. “Let’s renegotiate, let’s put the right amount of money in my pocket so I can take care of my family and then we can fight these big names like Josh Thomson, Benson Henderson, Patricky ‘Pitbull’ (Freire) and all these top guys out there. I truly believe I can compete, and not only compete, but win decisively against any one of them and be a champion in this division.”

Kozola has the utmost confidence he could give Bellator its monies worth, and his track record to this point shows why. Kozola has earned all eight of his career victories by stoppage, with five of those wins coming inside the opening round.

An argument can be made Kozola hasn’t been tested enough, and that’s why he’s been able to put opponents away in such a one-sided fashion. That may be true, but Kozola said it’s more about how he approaches the fight.

“I don’t prepare to go three minutes,” Kozola said. “I prepare to dominate. So whether it’s in the first, second or third round, my goal is always to finish and win decisively and in impressive fashion so I can get in there and get out healthy and get ready for the next one.”

The only thing somewhat bothersome for Kozola going into Bellator 184 is the fact his fight with Banks won’t be seen by as many people as it could. The matchup is tucked away on the prelims, which Kozola said is somewhat disappointing, even if he understands why.

“I was a little bit just because with my last performance being as good as it was, I thought the whole prelim thing would be done with,” Kozola said. “But when I was looking at the main card and seeing all the fighters on it, these guys have 20-plus fights. They deserve to be where they are. They’ve put in the time and put in those miles. Respect to them. They deserve their spot. I’ll just keep on putting on devastating performances and be entertaining and I’m sure Bellator will find a spot for me on the main card permanently after this fight.”

Regardless of what time or which platform the fight airs on, Kozola said it’s not going to change how he performs. He intends to go into the cage and made a statement against Banks, the same way he’s done against his previous eight foes.

“I’m going to go in there and assert myself as one of the top guys in this division,” Kozola said. “I’m ready for a top-five contender, for sure.”

For more on Bellator 184, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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