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Bellator 208: Tommy Espinosa excited to finally get willing opponent

The Ring of Combat Flyweight Champion accredits much of his success in life to the lessons and discipline acquired in the gym.

“I was going down a path that I wasn’t supposed to and needed something to help me mature,” Espinosa said in an interview with MMA Today. “I had my first son on the way when I got into mixed martial arts, and it took me off the path I was on.

“It stopped me from smoking and drinking and helped me start applying myself to my family and stuff. It made me grow.”

Debuting early last year, Espinosa has torn up the Northeast regional scene. So much so, that the 28-year-old has struggled finding title challengers.

“In my second year as a pro, I never thought it would be going so quick for me,” Espinosa said.

Finally, with a fight booked, Espinosa will return to the cage Saturday night on a big stage: Bellator 208 at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

“It was the best opportunity that we’ve had since my title fight,” Espinosa said. “Again, it’s not the UFC, but we have to get what we get pitched at us right now. Especially growing up and watching some of these guys like Fedor [Ememlianenko], Chael [Sonnen], Cheick [Kongo], and Benson Henderson.”

Standing in Espinosa’s way will be surging Tajikistani fighter Suhrob Aidarbekov. Espinosa

“There isn’t really much on him,” Espinosa said. “I know that he’s a short guy and he compensates that with his legs.”

“It was also brought to my attention that he went to Thailand to train which is cool. But then again, if it was that easy, everyone would go to Thailand and be amazing. Within a month’s span, I don’t think anything is going to change.”

With an impressive win, Espinosa hopes to catch the eye of UFC matchmakers. In fact, he already has his eyes set on a specific opponent and date for his debut.

“After [my Bellator] fight, if I get my call for the UFC, I did have a conversating online with Duke Roufus when they were setting up that December 15th card,” Espinosa said. “I said I would fight the guy that just signed at 125-pounds. Sergio and Anthony Pettis’s cousin [Elias Garcia]. He said, ‘If you get a call to the UFC, we’ll gladly fight you.’ So that’s possible.

“After October 13th, if I’m not injured, I’m going to get right back into training and wait for that call.”

To learn more about Tommy Espinosa, follow him on social media:

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Twitter: @tommy_espinosa1

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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.