The Bellator fight schedule ploughs on as Bellator 263 takes centre stage in Los Angeles, California, on the 31st of July. Scott Coker and his team have put together a thrilling 10-bout fight card, consisting of the Bellator MMA featherweight world championship up for grabs between Patricio Pitbull and challenger AJ McKee. The co-main event of the evening also oversees a high-stake matchup between Mads Burnell and former title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez. The fight card contains various other notable names such as Usman Nurmagomedov who takes on Manny Muro, Brent Primus, and Ireland’s Kiefer Crosbie, who also make the walk on the 31st of July.
I had the opportunity to catch up with one man among the action in Manny Muro, who rides a three-fight win streak leading into his battle with the undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov.
Manny “The Dragon” Muro
Manny Muro (12-6) will enter the Bellator sphere with an admirable three-fight win streak under his belt. The win streak comes after suffering a three-fight skid of his own on the regional circuit, but Muro’s career appears to be moving in a positive direction.
The Dragon’s prominent run began in 2019 when he dismantled Ken Coulter within two rounds at Rage in the Cage OKC 66. Following the Coulter victory, Manny Muro made his second stint with Bellator when presented the opportunity to exchange fists with Nick Newell at Bellator 232, which resulted in a split decision win for the thirty-four-year-old. In December of last year, Muro’s latest outing occurred at Bellator 252, when convincingly turning a three-fight losing streak into a winning streak of his own with a unanimous decision win over Devin Powell.
Muro has proven to be highly durable, with eight of his twelve wins coming by grinding out tough decisions, but make no mistake, “The Dragon” has the capability of finishing the fight wherever it goes.
Usman Nurmagomedov (12-0) has a tough job living up to the name after his cousin Khabib Numragomedov dominated the world of mixed martial arts and then retired on top. Nonetheless, the Russian is on a tear of his own, smashing everyone in his path and looking to replicate his cousin’s success.
After carrying out a sublime eleven-fight winning streak, which included a handful of first-round finishes, Nurmagomedov was awarded an opportunity to compete on Bellator. Making his debut at Bellator 255, the young prospect cruised to a unanimous decision win over Mike Hamel.
Interview with Manny Muro
It’s been seven months since we’ve last seen you inside the Bellator cage. Firstly, how’s life treating you, my friend? Have you been up to anything exciting in your time away from the cage?
Manny Muro – “Life has been good brother, just been trying to steadily improve each day as a martial artist and enjoy each day.”
Your last outing against Devin Powell was a convincing victory, marking your third consecutive win. Having some time to digest and reflect on that performance, how do you feel that went for you? How satisfied were you with the victory?
Manny Muro – “I think it went well. When my hand’s raised it’s always a blessing. It helped me realize that I belong with the elite of the elite in this sport. Devin is an excellent martial artist, and I believe I had a solid showing.”
Like I just mentioned, you’re on an impressive run of wins. Before that, you were on a three-fight skid of your own. Talk to me about how mentally challenging that was for you to overcome? Must feel good that you dug deep and never gave up on yourself?
Manny Muro – “It was a very tiring time for me. I went into a depression during that time. I had put my identity into being a martial artist that, when it got rough, I didn’t know who I was. It helped me realize my identity is not in MMA. It’s just a tiny part of my journey. My identity is found in my saviour Jesus Christ, and with that, I know ill always be victorious.”
Seeing your recent picture on Instagram of you getting some work in with UFC veteran Carlos Condit. Presuming you were a fan before, how is it working alongside him. Has he had any influence on this camp? Has he given you any famous words of advice, after all the man has seen and done it all?
Manny Muro – “It’s super inspiring, Carlos has always been one of my favourite fighters and seeing how he prepares and works is knowledge I can take into the future. He’s a very intellectual and cerebral fighter, very knowledgeable about the fight game. It’s been a blessing to learn from him.”
What was your initial reaction when Bellator offered you a fight with the undefeated Russian in Usman Nurmagomedov? Giving his resume, was there any hesitation on your end to take the fight?
Manny Muro – “They offered the fight in January, but I just caught covid, then they provided in February, but I broke my foot. I came back from my injury, which was the first fight they offered. I’m signed to Bellator, and this is the fight they wanted, so I accepted. If you want to be considered the best, you have to fight the best. I’m excited to challenge myself in this fight, and I believe wholeheartedly in my abilities.”
It’s tough to identify holes in someone so dominant throughout his career thus far. Watching tape, where do you feel the keys are to beating Nurmagomedov at Bellator 263?
Manny Muro – “I think just fighting, to be honest, I feel like people are defeated and intimidated when they step in the cage. I’ve faced a lot of adversity and challenging moments in my career. I believe I’m mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for whatever I may face in that cage on that night.”
What’re your overall thoughts on your opponent? Do you buy into the hype, or do you feel the hype is all in the name?
Manny Muro – ” I believe he is a very skilled opponent and has fantastic talents, and will do amazing things in the sport, but I feel like this is my moment to show my abilities and skills.”
People have looked at this matchup on paper and written you off before you’ve even stepped in the cage. What do you say to those people, and what can we expect to see from you on fight night?
Manny Muro – “People have constantly counted me out my whole career. This is nothing new to me, nor do I care. I thoroughly enjoy being the underdog. My community believes in me. My team at JW believes in me, and I think in the path that God has put me on. That’s all I need—none of the other stuff matters.”
Lastly, can we get an official fight prediction from you? How do you see the fight playing out?
Manny Muro – “It’s going to be three rounds. I visualise a dirty fight, with a win secured.”
Featured Image Credits to: Bellator MMA