Austin Vanderford is eager to share the cage with Fabian Edwards at Bellator 259 on Friday night.
Vanderford is 10-0 and coming off a decision win over Vinicius de Jesus in his third fight in Bellator. Vanderford is currently the third-ranked middleweight while Edwards is ranked fourth. Although they are both up and comers in the division, Vanderford believes the fight makes sense now.
“With the rankings system coming out, Bellator is looking to put on fights the people want to see even if they are two up and comers to the division,” Vanderford said to BJPENN.com. “This is a fight that gets people excited. I also grew up in the wrestling community, you wrestled anyone at any time to find out who’s the best. I’m excited to go out and hurt this man.”
When Vanderford announced the fight, he claimed it was Paige VanZant’s husband vs. Leon Edwards’ brother. The only reason the 31-year-old marketed the fight that way was due to the fact the Englishman was calling him out but wouldn’t say his name, so he had to let him know his brother is more well known than he is.
“Fabian was calling for the fight saying he wanted to fight Paige VanZant’s husband and wouldn’t say my actual name,” Vanderford said. “I just didn’t want him to forget that he’s also Leon Edwards’ brother. You can call a spade a spade. Just having a little fun with it.”
Against Edwards, Vanderford is confident he will get his hand raised as he’ll be able to take Edwards down at will. The plan is to bring the Englishman into the deep waters, which is where Vanderford believes he is at his best.
“My game plan is to stick to what got me to the dance. I have a lot of success with my wrestling, submission game, and ground and pound,” Vanderford said. “I’m also ready to strike and stand and bang with him as well. We all love a nice knockout, but I’ve got the best coaches in the world and I know I’m prepared and got a good game plan for this and will take him to deep waters. I’m going to make it a gritty fight. I go out there and do that, I will be victorious.”
If Vanderford does get his hand raised on Friday night, he’d improve to 11-0 and believes he’d be in title contention to face Gegard Mousasi for the middleweight strap.
“I think I will be in the conversation. John Salter deserves the next shot, so I have no problem with him getting the next title fight. I just go out there and put on the performance of what I expect to do and we will see what Bellator wants next for me,” Vanderford concluded.
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