VERONA, N.Y. – Chidi Njokuani has been cruising along, but in classic fighter style, he says it doesn’t matter who it’s been against, or where.
Njokuani brings an eight-fight winning streak into tongiht’s Bellator 182 main event at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The main card airs on Spike following prelims that stream on MMAjunkie. Included in that mix are wins for RFA on AXS TV, a Tachi Palace Fights title, and most recently four straight for Bellator.
Tonight, Njokuani (17-4 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) gets former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov (19-2 MMA, 10-2 BMMA), who is fighting for the first time since losing his title. It’s Njokuani’s second straight Bellator main event, which he believes is intentional on his bosses’ part.
“They’re finally seeing what I’m capable of doing,” Njokuani told MMAjunkie. “And they’re finally trying to help boost my career, too, instead of me on my own doing it. It’s nice to have the actual push behind me.”
In January, Njokuani got arguably his biggest win yet, 21 fights into his career, when he beat former UFC standout Melvin Guillard. And though he acknowledges he wasn’t fighting a vintage version of Guillard – “The Young Assassin” has gone just 3-11 the past six years – the experience still proved valuable to him.
“I know he wasn’t the old Melvin, but it was still cool to beat somebody, to fight somebody with a name,” Njokuani said. “Going around, people are constantly asking who I’m fighting, and they have no clue who I’m fighting. Finally, they actually knew who I was about to fight. So that was pretty dope. And getting the experience with a veteran, understanding how they do things differently.”
But tonight, there could be a lot more on the line. A win over Koreshkov, Njokuani believes, ought to put him right up there to be in line for a shot at the welterweight title.
For the record, Njokuani came in heavy for the third straight fight. He weighed in at 175 pounds, which might give the Bellator brass some pause about handing him a title shot without showing he can make the weight first. But before he can worry about that, he needs to get the win – which would be his most quality one yet.
“One hundred percent (I should be in line for a title shot),” Njokuani said. “I (would have) just beat the ex-champ. If it doesn’t, there’s no explanation for that. If I’m fighting the ex-champ, it means it’s either for title contention or, I don’t know – I should be put in that slot afterward. Beating him, that’s a different level. It’s not just another chump. I’m beating someone who actually held the belt.”
And if you’re wondering about some of the other big names in Bellator’s welterweight division right now, like champ Douglas Lima, Rory MacDonald, Michael Page, or even Lorenz Larkin, well …
“I don’t really care about them,” Njokuani said. “I don’t care about nobody else. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not worried about them. They’re not fighting Koreshkov, I am. (Expletive) them. I’m in my own little box. I’m just doing my own thing, and I don’t care about being in the same lane as them unless we’re fighting.”view original article >>