Mario Bautista was ecstatic when he got the call to fight Benito Lopez.
After Bautista submitted Brian Kelleher back in June he wasn’t sure what would be next. Yet, when he got the call to face Lopez it did surprise him as Benito hasn’t fought since 2019. However, Bautista was excited about the matchup given the two were supposed to fight as amateurs in 2013.
“I was a little surprised. I didn’t know if he was retired or what was going on with him because he had been gone for so long,” Bautista said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “A little surprised, but at the same time, it’s a fight I have wanted for a while now, even going back to our amateur days. I’m pretty excited about it… I want to say we were matched up in 2013, in an amateur show, but I think he went pro and did a Bellator fight. That was that and we got to the UFC and I was talking to my manager about getting him. It didn’t work out then but here we are.”
Although Lopez hasn’t fought since 2019, Bautista doesn’t think the California native has improved during the time off.
Bautista Sees Holes In Lopez’s Game
“I don’t think he will be changed much. I also don’t try to focus on what they are doing, rather I just focus on myself,” Bautista explained. “I’m working off his performances in the UFC. To be honest, I don’t know if he has gotten any better during the time off. I know he got a realtor license in the time off, so I would imagine he didn’t get too much better.”
With Benito Lopez coming off a layoff, Mario Bautista is expecting him to come out aggressive to try and shake the rust and nerves off. However, by doing so, Bautista expects Lopez to start getting tired. Once that happens, Bautista is confident he will find a stoppage win.
“I match up well, I’m not taking him lightly, he’s a good challenge. There are some big holes in his game that I’m looking to exploit… I’m prepared to go three rounds hard, like a war,” Bautista said. “But, I think he’s going to come out hot and I’m going to weather the storm. If the fight goes two rounds, I think his cardio won’t keep up with mine and I see a finish in the second or third round.”
If Bautista does finish Lopez as he says, he hopes that either gets him in the rankings or earns him a ranked opponent next.
“I’m hoping right outside the top 15 or even in the top 15 depending on my performance. After this fight, I want to start challenging myself and fighting the elite of the division,” Bautista concluded.
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