Joey Beltran has been in the MMA game for nearly a decade now, having competed in big promotions like the UFC and now Bellator MMA. But as his latest Bellator MMA deal nears its end, Beltran is digging in for his last stand.
“Slowly I started to miss competing, miss being on that daily grind of getting in good condition,” Beltran said to MMA Junkie. “After about six months, I was finally like, ‘OK, I want to do this. This is what I want to do and what makes me happy. I want to fight.’ This fight is purely for enjoyment and to prove to myself and everybody else that I’ve still got it and I have one more good run left in me. I want to make a push for that title. I am without a doubt fighting the No. 1 guy in the whole damn country, and he’s no doubt going to have the crowd, so it’s going to be pretty cool. I’ve just got to go out there and get in his face and shut up the crowd along with implementing my gameplan and just overwhelm him from the beginning. I know the judges aren’t going to do me any favors; they never have my whole career. Any time I’ve gone to the judges I’ve had bad luck in close fights. So I’ve either got to finish him or dominate every single round.”
Bellator MMA fans last saw Beltran compete at Bellator 155 this past summer, where he lost a split decision to Chase Gormley, but even Beltran admits that his last performance may have been the worst of his career.
“I slipped away mentally,” Beltran said. “I had a ‘real job’ for a while and I just disconnected myself from MMA all together for a long time. The Bellator fight I took with Chase Gormley – and no disrespect, he beat me or whatever – but I mentally wasn’t there. You saw my pictures at weigh-ins and my appearance. I wasn’t physically there, wasn’t mentally there, wasn’t spiritually there. I’ve never had a fight my whole 10-year career of doing this where I tried to win on points. It’s always been, ‘(Expletive) hit the gas peddle and go.’ I didn’t want to do it anymore, and I was just over it. After that fight, I stopped teaching classes, got a new job. I was a full time, 50-hour-a-week furniture salesman, and I was pretty good at it. I was making pretty good money. I started getting fat. I got up to like 248 (pounds).”
Beltran will be headlining his third card for Bellator MMA, he lost his last two main event bouts to Quinton Jackson and former Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion Emmanuel Newton.
Bellator 168 takes place on Saturday, December 10 from the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy with Joey Beltran and Alessio Sakara headlining.