Bellator 155: "Carvalho vs. Manhoef" comes to CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho, on May 20, 2016, featuring Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho, who will make his first-ever title defense against Dutch wrecking machine Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef in the Spike TV-televised main event.
Earlier that evening, though, two opponents who know each other well, Dave Jansen and Marcin Held, will meet in an important Lightweight contest. Jansen and Held first met in Bellator MMA's Season 7 155-pound tournament finals, where the former took the fight via decision ... and took home a big check and a title shot to boot.
There's one other thing that Jansen and Held have in common -- losing title shots to division champion Will Brooks.In fact, Held's last fight was against Brooks in Nov. 2015 and Jansen's most recent appearance was also against "Ill" more than one year ago.
Is beating Held a second time Jansen's path to a second title shot? We explore the possibility in today's interview with MMAmania.com. First things first though -- where has he been all this time?
"Southeast Portland for the most part. You know I took a little break and it was good for me. I got my beehive up and rocking again. I got out in the country in Redmond, Oregon, and I just needed to not fight. MMA isn't everything for me."
Usually long layoffs come not by choice, but by injury. Even though Jansen isn't your typical fighter, one would still wonder if getting back to nature gave him a chance to heal up a bit.
"Uhh, no. I have some aches and whatnot, but there's also an issue with the gym I was training at where it closed down and for a while there I didn't have a home base. Four months ago I started training at Gracie Barra and that seemed like a really good fit. As soon as I linked up with those guys I knew I could start preparing for a fight."
Now that Jansen has had some time off and found a "good fit" for training, he's feeling strong and ready to face Held this weekend in Boise.
"I'm confident, injury-free and really excited. It's a legit fight. Although I beat him before, this is a brand new fight and I'm expecting a new and improved Marcin Held. At the same time, I've added a lot to my game, so I'm anxious to go out there and I'm going look to put him away. You know last time I feel like I got pretty close, but if I had one more round I could have done it. This time I've just got a little more 'Eye of the Tiger' in me so to speak."
So as he's rising up to the challenge of his rival, does Jansen expect the "Polish Prodigy" of jiu-jitsu to spend his time hunting for submissions again?
"I have been preparing for leg locks. And just like last time I was really well versed in leg lock defense by the time that fight happened, but I have to anticipate that he can't rely on it against me -- he knows that. He has to have something else, some other trick up his sleeve. I've seen him win fights with things other than leg locks. Yeah, I'm gonna be ready for anything this time."
Jansen also credits Held for improved stand-up -- something he showed off by going toe-to-toe with Patricky "Pitbull" Freire at Bellator 126. He wants to overcome all aspects of Held's game and get back to the top of the division.
"(Guys like) Josh Thomson and Michael Chandler. I don't want to look past Marcin of course, but I'm anxious to have nothing but legit high-level fights. Josh Thomson -- I'm really excited that he's in Bellator. Now somebody's older than me (*laughs*) in my weight division ... only by a year though!"
Jansen uses some unorthodox methods of preparation for his fights, including a special way of achieving Zen.
"'Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy' is what the experts are calling it. It's still available to me through a sponsorship by a company called Float On in Southeast Portland. I have trouble just meditating in my house, there's too many distractions, but in the tank it's different. You can just let go of everything, and you can't bring any electronics in there with you. I've been using it to visualize my fight and having the fight go my way every time and also just letting go of everything and having no thoughts and tapping into that nothingness."
And thanks to a new workout regiment, Jansen has developed a whole new way of building up his cardio.
"There's a gym called Evolution Health Care and Fitness. They happen to have an altitude room and so we do a lot of the workouts in the altitude room where it's simulated anywhere from 9,000 to 17,000 feet. They suck some of the Oxygen out of the room so my lungs have to compensate. I'm really excited to see how that works out in the fight."
Jansen is also really excited about the fact that Melvin Manhoef is fighting Rafael Carvalho for the title.
"I'm actually going to have a couple of my Dutch relatives out there and so I think it's neat that there are some Dutch fighters on the card for them to watch as well. My uncle and his wife and my father are Dutch, and my uncle and aunt just happen to be in town so they're going to make the drive over with my mom -- and I want to watch Manhoef fight as well."
The bottom line from Jansen is that Held had better be ready for a war in the rematch this Friday night.
"I believe so. I'm gonna do everything I can. Like I said it's a brand new fight but I'm definitely not taking it lightly."
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.