BELLATOR 290: Bader vs. Fedor 2 Media Day Quotes

No. 8-ranked welterweight Sabah “Sleek Sheik” Homasi (17-10) and “Irish” Brennan Ward (16-6), submission ace Neiman Gracie (11-4), and notable preliminary card standouts spoke to assembled media today ahead of the historic BELLATOR 290: Bader vs. Fedor 2 event taking place at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 4 and airing live on CBS and Paramount+ at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

The preliminary portion of the card will kick off at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT and can be viewed live and free on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel and Pluto TV.

Here is what the featured fighters had to say at Thursday’s media availabilities:

Sabah Homasi: No. 8- ranked BELLATOR Welterweight

“I’m going to beat this guy’s face in. I told my manager to make this fight happen. It took a while but here we are. I love facing somebody who shows up and comes to fight. Somebody who’s going to meet me in the middle and we’re going to throw down. That’s what I like. Absolutely, I respect him. You have to respect somebody like Brennan Ward. He’s got power in both his hands and at the end of the day, I don’t look past anybody. Anybody who’s across the cage from me, I know I’m getting into a fight and I’m going to be well-prepared.”

“We’ll see who’s next after this. I take everything one fight at a time. If I start focusing on something else, I’m taking my mind off what’s ahead. I don’t like doing that. I have Brennan Ward in front of me. I have to come out here and win in spectacular fashion. I want to crack the top five and go from there. But all my attention and energy is going towards Brennan Ward right now.”

“I feel like everything is coming together with perfect timing. I feel like I was a bit of a late bloomer but here I am. I’m stepping into the cage and I’m putting on great performances. I’m excited for Saturday night to showcase my skills.”

“I don’t ever predict how I will finish fights. People learn from their mistakes. I have plenty of blemishes on my record and I’ve learned from every single one of them. But that also made me who I am today.”

Brennan Ward: BELLATOR Welterweight

“I’ve got respect for Homasi, and I know he has respect for me. I can’t look you in the eyes and say he’s not dangerous, and he can’t look you in the eyes and say I’m not dangerous. We’re both dangerous dudes and some dangerous shit is going to happen out there. And it’s probably not going to leave the first round, honestly. So what can you say? How can you get fired up and talk all this shit to each other when you know one of you is getting knocked out? We’re going to let our hands talk.”

On quitting his job to focus on MMA full time: “I don’t want to look back at myself when I’m 50 years old and say, ‘Man, you were still in your physical prime and you just didn’t go for it.’ I don’t ever want that. I don’t want to have any of those regrets. I’m giving this everything I’ve got. I’m fully committed to this. I’m training more than I ever have in my whole life. I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in. Whatever happens, happens. If I get the belt, I get the belt. But if I don’t, I can lay my head down at night and say I went for it.”

“I feel compelled to use this platform of fighting on CBS to help people because it’s a real problem. Everybody knows how real it is. If you haven’t been affected by it personally, you know somebody who’s been affected by the opioid epidemic. And it had its hooks in me as bad as it had its hooks in anybody. Now I get to show the world that you can put that shit down and get right and you can come back and change your life. I’m that example. It doesn’t get any worse than what I was. I was at the bottom of the barrel.”

“I can gameplan as much as I want, and I’m going to implement that into the fight, but you know that side of me is going to come out. I’m always looking to end it in the first round. It doesn’t matter how good of shape I’m in right now, I still don’t want to fight 15 minutes. I want to end it quickly. The fans want to see me end it quickly. That’s why I’m on the main card. There’s no number next to my name but I’m on the main card. There’s plenty of guys on the undercard who have numbers next to their name. I don’t. But who’s on the main card? I am. Because I finish fights and that’s what the fans want to see.”

Lorenz Larkin: BELLATOR Welterweight

On the Rematch with Mukhamed Berkhamov: “This fight is not so much personal. I think as a fighter, we’re always trying to find that chink in the armor. I think, for the first fight, it gave me a big insight into what that fighter is. I guess that type of stuff drives me. It’s just disappointing. At the end of the day, I know it was a foul. I acknowledge that. But at the end of the day, I’m a vet. I know a fight-ending blow, and I know a blow to just get you to stop doing something. That wasn’t a fight-ending blow. I’ll just leave it at that.”

On his Plans this Year “If I can get three fights a year, that’s perfect for me. I’m most dangerous when I’m active. I’m already looking at my next date, and we’re going to go from there.”

On Why He Accepted the Rematch: “This was brought to me, and I said yes. I’m not the guy who goes asking for fights. They offer me the fight, and I say yes. That’s how it’s always been. My thing is, like I’ve been saying, before the tragic incident happened last fight, this is a guy that not a lot of guys want to fight. If you’re a ranked guy, you don’t want to fight this guy. You don’t want to risk it. These guys don’t want to risk the fight. Why risk it on someone who isn’t even on the rankings? You would rather risk it against the guy whose No. 8 or No. 4. These are the guys that no one wants to fight, and that’s what drives me in this diluted-ass game we’re in.”

On His Fighting Style and Fighting on Fedor Emelianenko’s Retirement Show: “That’s always been my style and what’s gotten me to where fight fans like to see me fight. I just go in there, not scared to try something. I guess I’m pretty flashy, and people like that. It’s always great to share the card with these guys who really put in the work. It reminds you of what you put in to get there. I’m always grateful to be a part of these types of cards.”

Steve Mowry: Undefeated No. 5- ranked BELLATOR Heavyweight

On the No Contest with Valentin Moldavsky: “The injury part of it, no more than a week. Yeah, it was tough. The frustration. I started going to therapy, honestly. I’m a big advocate for mental health, especially in men. I had a lot of things I was carrying with me my whole life… I guess that’s how you get into punching people in a cage as a profession. But that was kind of the turning point; I was juggling a lot, had a lot of things going on that I’d never dealt with, and I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s figure some things out, Steve. Let’s take the fight inside.’ I think, if I can build on a good thing/bad thing, it is what you decide it is. And I’ve decided that it’s just a thing that happened… After enough time had passed, I realized I could sit around and be depressed about it, or just accept it for what it is.”

On Ali Isaev: “I trained with him three years ago, right before he won the PFL tournament. When he won, we were really happy for him and proud of him, and then he disappeared for a while there. Whenever I saw that BELLATOR had signed him, I had a feeling at some point we might have to see each other. Like I said, I was more than happy for him when he went out and did his thing, but now we’re going to do our thing together. He wasn’t [at Kill Cliff FC] long, but we got a lot of work together.”

“Just like I said — this is somebody I trained with before, and I knew everything that came with having a win over him. I knew everything that comes with that would bring, and I am just really looking forward to capitalizing on the opportunity. So, I made the most of it in training camp, and I think it’s going to show on Saturday.”

Ali Isaev: Undefeated BELLATOR Heavyweight

“As any good fighter, I definitely strive to win the title. I still think I have something left in me and I’m going to go for the title. I don’t regret not getting into MMA sooner. I’m pretty happy and confident with where I am now. I know people like to talk about my age but I believe it’s about how you feel inside, how flexible you are, how prepared you are with your training. I lost a couple of years but I still believe I have a lot to show.”

“I’m not so starstruck to be fighting on the same card as Fedor. I’m just focused on my fight. There is a goal and a mission and I need to pass that first. It’s nice to be on the same card as Fedor, yes he’s wrapping up his career, but he’s a legend. No matter what his age is, you can still get some inspiration from him.”

“Fedor is a lot lighter than me so obviously our skills are going to be a little different. He has speed but at the same time heavy punches. I’ve never thought of myself as being a similar fighter but it’s a great compliment to hear that some people think that. I just do my job and don’t worry about comparing myself to others.”

“We don’t like giving predictions. It’s the heavyweight division, anything can happen. I truly believe that whoever had the strongest camp and the best preparation will win the fight. We’ll see the outcome on Saturday night.”

Neiman Gracie: No. 7- Ranked BELLATOR Welterweight

“Things are not going as planned but when things are not going as planned you have to find a way to make it work. I’m here to turn the tables and get back in line. The best thing in life is to overcome bad situations and that’s what I live for. I’m happy to be here in this situation and I’m happy to overcome it and be a better fighter.”

“Of course, you evaluate what you’re doing wrong but you also evaluate how you’re doing mentally. You try to evaluate how you’re doing physically. There’s three aspects. The mental aspect, the physical aspect and the fighting itself. Those three things have to be in line to win fights. I’ve been there before. I won nine fights straight and I plan on doing the same again.”

“The change in opponent doesn’t change much because most of the fighters these days are similar. They all know some jujitsu, some wrestling and some striking. But they are not very good at anything. A couple of them, the champions, are specialists. The specialists, in my opinion, are the hardest to deal with. I’m a specialist and I believe that if I can put my game into the fight, I believe I am one of the best in the world at what I do. That’s why you see so many people avoiding me.”

“The plan is to fight maybe four times this year. I asked to be very active so maybe another fight a few months from now and we take it from there.”

“The title is always in the back of my mind. Of course, I want to win this fight so bad but it’s not just about winning. If you guys watch my fights, you never see a boring fight. I care about this. I care about winning but winning in style. I want to win by making a statement and I think that will be the difference in this fight.”

Jaylon Bates: Undefeated BELLATOR Bantamweight

“This isn’t my biggest fight. The biggest fight will be when I fight for the belt. I’ve been ready to go, ready to rock. I’m tired of thinking about Jornel [Lugo]. I’ve been thinking about him for five months. I like guys that keep me up at night. If BELLATOR wants me to fight him, I’m gonna fight him. I’m going to keep going, keep winning. It doesn’t matter if it’s Jornel or [Raufeon] Stots or [Sergio] Pettis. They’re all going to keep me up at night.”

“I believe after we win, there will be a Bates vs. Lugo 2 down the road. Whatever BELLATOR wants to happen. I’m going to just keep winning, and this time, I’m going to do it in a dominant fashion. The past few fights, I’ve been unfocused. Now, I’m focused and I’m ready.”

“I think he showed some things that Lugo lacked, but I don’t think it’s the blueprint because he didn’t finish him. I’m coming to finish him. Then, that will be the blueprint.”

Jornel Lugo: BELLATOR Bantamweight

“When I first heard about this fight, I thought this was a good matchup. He’s 6-0; he’s undefeated. I’m 8-1. I’m coming off my first loss, so I thought it was a fair matchup. I can’t complain about it. I like it.”

“It’s all about being diligent. In any craft that you’re in, you want to read all the books, you want to take the seminars, you want to take the classes and be the best at your craft. It’s the same in MMA. You can’t just show up to training and go home. You’ve got to study. You’ve got to study your own footage, other people’s footage. You have to get inspiration and new techniques. I’m just trying to be the best I can possibly be in my sport because it’s my job.”

“There’s a lot of things from different boxers that I’ve taken. With [Saul Alvarez] ‘Canelo’, it’s the way he throws his body shots and his left hooks. I’ve been able to add a lot of that to my game. Not just Canelo, but a lot of boxers.”

“I want to come out here, and I want to stop him. I’m definitely looking to finish everybody that I fight from this fight forward. Yeah, he’s fighting close to home but you know what they say: The fans can’t fight for you. They ain’t getting in the ring with him. It’s only going to be me and him. It’s going to be a war. It’s going to be cats and dogs in there. You know the little smoke things in the cartoons when they’re fighting? That’s going to be us.”

Grant Neal: No. 6- Ranked BELLATOR Light Heavyweight

On the Matchup with Karl Albrektsson: “I think it’s a great matchup. I’m just excited to show what I can do, and I know that my team is seeing everything and all the work that I put in, so I’m excited to show the world. Karl’s a great opponent. He’s a veteran. He’s been in the sport for a while. He’s fought some of the best in the world, beat some of the best, and I’m excited to test my skills against someone like him.”

“[How I see the] rest of this year playing out? Go and get this win, then I get to marry my fiancé, then we fight again.”

“I envision this fight going down in a way that I can show the world what Grant Neal is capable of. That’s it. Everyone in my gym, they know what I’m capable of doing. Now, I’m just excited to go out there and show everybody.”

Karl Albrektsson: No. 9- Ranked BELLATOR Light Heavyweight

“The preparations have been very good. I’ve been training very hard with different sparring partners and different wrestlers. The fans can expect a very good fight from me on Saturday night.”

“Grant [Neal] is a very good athlete and a very good wrestler. You can see that he’s getting better in each fight and that he’s evolving. This is definitely a very tough matchup against a very skilled opponent. Yes, he’s one of the shortest opponents I’ve faced, but he’s built like an ox. He has a very strong double leg, and he’s a bit shorter, so he’s closer to the legs. That’s his advantage and I assume his game plan will be to try to take me down. It’s definitely been a focus of mine in camp.”

“I want to be champion here at BELLATOR, so I have to win fights and move up the ladder. I think I need to put together a good win streak before I can challenge for the title.”

“When I visualize this victory, I visualize that I ‘flying knee’ him in the face and he’s lying flat, and I finish him with several punches until the referee pulls me off.”

Diana Avsaragova: Undefeated BELLATOR Women’s Flyweight

“I’m very satisfied with the promotion. I’m happy with BELLATOR. It’s a huge, amazing organization, and I’m hoping to keep fighting for them and eventually get the belt.”

“The goal for me has always been to fight tough opponents, and [Alejandra] Lara is a great fighter despite her losing streak. She’s the toughest fighter that I’ve faced, on paper. In terms of fighting for the title, I think I’ll be ready in two or three more fights.”

“Of course, I’m extremely happy that I’m fighting on this huge card, especially with Fedor [Emelianenko] headlining. I’m so happy that BELLATOR put me in this fight, and I’ll do my best on Saturday night.”


CBS and Paramount +
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 — 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

Heavyweight World Title Main Event: #C-Ryan Bader (30-7, 1 NC) vs. #3-Fedor Emelianenko (40-6, 1 NC)

Middleweight World Title Co-Main Event: #C-Johnny Eblen (12-0) vs. Anatoly Tokov (31-3)

Welterweight Bout: #8Sabah Homasi (17-10) vs. Brennan Ward (16-6)


BELLATOR MMA YouTube Channel | Pluto TV
6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT

Welterweight Bout: #7-Neiman Gracie (11-4) vs. Dante Schiro (9-4)

Welterweight Bout: #8-Lorenz Larkin (24-7, 2 NC) vs. Mukhamed Berkhamov (15-1, 1 NC)

Featherweight Bout: Henry Corrales (20-6) vs. Akhmed Magomedov (9-0, 1 NC)

Heavyweight Bout: #5-Steve Mowry (10-0, 1 NC) vs. Ali Isaev (9-0)

Lightweight Bout: Chris Gonzalez (7-2) vs. Max Rohskopf (7-1)

Light Heavyweight Bout: #6-Grant Neal (7-1) vs. #T9-Karl Albrektsson (13-4)

Flyweight Bout: Alejandra Lara (9-6) vs. Diana Avsaragova (5-0)

Bantamweight Bout: Darrion Caldwell (14-6) vs. Nikita Mikhailov (9-2)

Bantamweight Bout: Jaylon Bates (6-0) vs. Jornel Lugo (8-1)

Featherweight Bout: Isaiah Hokit (2-1) vs. Peter Ishiguro (2-1)

Welterweight Bout: Ethan Hughes (3-0) vs. Yusuf Karakaya (1-0)