Javy Ayala took on former UFC heavyweight champion and mixed martial arts legend Frank Mir at December’s Bellator Hawaii: Salute The Troops event.
Many fans and analysts expected that Mir would emerge victorious when his bout with Ayala was first announced.
In the first-round of the fight, Frank Mir appeared to be getting the better of Ayala on the ground. Mir was attempting submission after submission, but Ayala remained poised and avoided getting caught.
“In the first round, he took me down and his control on top felt great,” Ayala said to BJPENN.com. “I couldn’t really get out, but all the submissions he threw at me I have seen them all at the gym, so I was never in danger. When he took me down we were by my corner so I was listening and having conversations with my coaches as we were going through the fight.”
After the first round, Javy Ayala went back to his corner and knew he had to keep the fight standing. In the second round, he did exactly that. He landed punch after punch and then Mir’s mouthguard fell out. Ayala then got Mir up against the cage and kept on throwing elbows and punches to which Mir had enough and had tapped. However, at first, Ayala didn’t even realize Mir was tapping.
“At first, I felt him tapping on my shoulder and I didn’t think much of it,” he said. “Then, in my head, I started to think, is he tapping out, but the ref didn’t jump in. I didn’t want to lose my position so I hit him and he tapped harder on my head and it clearly wasn’t a fist so I looked over to the ref and said he is tapping. That is when he jumped in.”
When the ref stepped in, the fight was over and Ayala had earned his biggest win to date. His résumé now has a win over one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time in Frank Mir.
“It felt amazing. Just to be able to say I have beat him is cool,” Ayala said. “He is a legend in the sport and I have been watching him since I first started fighting. He has always been one of my favorite fighters.”
The win over Mir snaps Ayala’s two-fight losing streak. But, when fighters lose two in a row, they are mad at themselves, but not Ayala. He has had a tough stretch of fights and is now 2-2 in his last four.
“For me, it was very important,” Ayala said of how important was the win for him. “I was actually talking about it to my coaches like I have had murderers alley for my last four fights. I fought Sergei (Kharitonov), Roy (Nelson), Cheick (Kongo) and then Frank (Mir). Those are some of the biggest names in Bellator and those are my last four fights and I performed great against all of them beside the Cheick fight.”
Ultimately, Ayala is celebrating the biggest win of his career, and as he should be. For now, Mir is calling for a rematch, but for Ayala, it isn’t up to him if a rematch is next.
“It is pretty much all in Bellator’s hands, if they want me to fight him again, I’ll fight him again. I think by him wanting a rematch is an ego-type thing,” he explained. “He said it pretty clearly on his podcast that I was somebody he was supposed to beat and since it didn’t go his way he wants another shot at it.”
Now, after a win against Mir, the hope is, this is the start of a run to a title shot. People now know Javy Ayala is a threat to any man on the Bellator heavyweight roster.
“I feel like it does boost up my name a lot,” he said. “Obviously, he is one of the most known heavyweights around and to have a win over him it helps me get up in the mix. I feel like it shows light on me that I am a new breed of the heavyweight.”
Who do you think Javy Ayala should fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/5/2019.