Bellator 190: After “FOTY” Candidate, Brandon Girtz Looking Rebound in Italy
At the end of the calendar year, when all is said and done, there will be some serious discussions amongst the MMA community as to which bout deserves the coveted “Fight of the Year” notoriety. Should it be Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johson or Eddie Alvarez? Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira? Damien Brown vs. Frank Camacho? All of these bouts of course, took place inside the UFC octagon. However, when you look outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, you won’t find a bout that was much better than that of the all out war between Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos.
The two combatants squared off this past July at Bellator 181, and neither man held back. For two rounds Girtz and Campos gave and received dozens of power strikes. Neither man had an ounce of quit in him, but a gruesome cut suffered by Girtz caused the fight to be waived off prior to the start of the third round. The gash, which resembled a mix between a canoe and the Jordan “jumpman” logo, seemed to bother everyone in the arena, except for Brandon Girtz (14-7) that is. In classic MMA fighter fashion, Girtz wanted the fight to continue. “It sucks how it was ended,” says Girtz, when reflecting on the bout. “I definitely feel like the fight should have kept going. If you look at how it was ended, it was bleeding bad, but nothing changed from Round 1 to Round 2. They let me fight a whole round, so I don’t see why they should have stopped it. I look back at it and it was definitely the most I’ve ever bled in a fight.”
As a result of Campos’s slicing knee that caused the wound, Girtz is now sporting quite the cicatrix on his forehead. Despite the battle scar, Girtz is in good spirits and has a positive outlook when it comes to his new facial addition. “It didn’t take to long to heal. I feel like Wolverine,” laughs Girtz. “[There are] no problems now. It’s healed up great and it’s stronger now, I believe.” When reflecting on the bout back in July, Girtz has a mixed sense of pride and disappointment. “It was a good fight. It was a war out there,” says Girtz. “I felt like I came and showed up when the adversity came. I had heart and that’s what I have every time I step into the cage.
Bellator 181‘s headliner marked the third meeting between two staples of Bellator MMA‘s 155 pound division. What was intended to be a rubber match, however, may have instead caused there to be reason for a “best out of five” scenario. When asked if a future fourth bout is in the back of his mind, Girtz gave fight fans the answer they want to hear. “Yeah absolutely, just because of how it ended… and I know Derek [Campos] will bring it every time we step in there,” explains Girtz. “It’s definitely a fight down the road that could happen. I know the fans want to see it!”
Before a potential rematch with Campos occurs, Girtz will have another challenge on his hands. This Saturday night, Brandon Girtz will be making his international mixed martial arts debut when he takes on Luka Jelcic (10-2) at Bellator 190. The bout takes place at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy and will serve as the night’s co-main event. The card will air on tape-delay in the United States.
The 32-year-old Minnesota native is thrilled to be fighting outside of the country, but knows that some adjustments need to be made as to keep himself on par with his European foe. Girtz decided to extend his first visit in Italy, leaving a week earlier than was originally scheduled. By doing this, he will give himself a little over two weeks to acclimate to the time change in order to perform at his best. While some fighters may not like competing internationally, Brandon Girtz is embracing the opportunity. “It’s going to be an adventure; traveling across the world to do what I love,” says Girtz. “It feels like blood sport. You know, crossing the seas to take on somebody else? It’s definitely a cool thing.”
Lot of energy here!!!! To think what has happened here at the Colosseum is absolutely epic! Men would enter knowing they would not walk out of there!!! Other’s would enter knowing that they we’re stopping other men from walking out of there! Your life or theirs!!! Beauty at its worse! When it’s you vs another man, there’s nothing more simple! Live or Die!!! @colosseum_of_rome . . I’m coming #Bellator190 #life or #death #mma #knockout #blood #italy #rome @bellatormma
Standing across the cage from Girtz will be SGB Ireland product and Conor McGregor teammate Luka Jelcic. The 28-year-old Croatian will be making his Bellator MMA debut, coming off of four straight victories outside of the promotion. Despite his opponent being relatively unknown in the U.S., Girtz knows Jelcic is no joke. “He’s a legit opponent. It’s going to be a good fight out there,” says Girtz, of Jelcic. Looking at him, he’s got some tools to use. He’s a good ground guy and a tall guy. He’s definitely never stepped in the cage with someone like me, and he’s never had an opponent as aggressive as I am. I feel like that’s going to be the difference right there. This is definitely a step up in competition for him.”
Coming off of three straight losses heading into his Bellator 190 showdown, Girtz can’t help but to feel pressure, but to him that’s the name of the game. “In the fight world I feel like [your back is always up against the wall]. There’s always something on the line. Right now, I have a little bit of a skid here and feel like I need to win. Before that, I felt like it was the same thing. Before that, it was that I was up for a title shot. You’re always fighting for your life. Every next fight is your biggest fight.”
With a win over Jelcic, Girtz sees himself being thrown right back in the mix in Bellator’s 155 pound division. “I still believe that I’m up there in the top. A win here will prove [that]. You look at my last fights and they’ve all been against top opponents. I’m not fighting anybodies here. With a win over Jelcic, I’m right in the mix.”
“A big thank you to Charlotte’s Web. It’s a CBD company that I feel does a lot of huge things for a lot of people in this world. And VaporFi! They’ve always got my back. Also, check me out on Instagram and check out my new fight t-shirt as well!”- Brandon Girtz
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