Bellator 178: “Straus vs. Pitbull 4” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., this Friday night (April 21, 2017), featuring a main event between Featherweight champion Daniel Straus vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for a fourth time in a historic rivalry that dates back to Bellator MMA’s tournament days.
There’s another fighter on the card this weekend who has been around the promotion that long, too, the venerable San Bernardino native Saad Awad, who made his first appearance for the promotion back in 2009. Indeed, knocking out Will Brooks is just one in a laundry list of his accomplishments.
However, things have not gone so well for Awad in recent months. After losing a unanimous decision to Derek Anderson, Awad decided to go up in weight for a “stand and deliver” slugfest with Brennan Ward at Bellator 163. Unfortunately for him, it was Ward who delivered the knockout. Ryan Quinn could be his chance to turn things around. Quinn has never lost in Bellator (seven for seven), but as his 13-6-1 record suggests, he’s been somewhat lackluster outside of it.
MMAmania.com recently spoke with Awad about making the most of this opportunity this weekend at the expense of Quinn. And he caught me by surprise right out of the gate with an important detail about his fight.
“I’m guessing they haven’t announced this yet, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to announce it, but we’re fighting at a Catchweight — it’s actually at 165 — so I’m good! I don’t have to cut too much to make weight, I’m not killing myself to make weight, I’m making weight real easy. I’m comfortable, I’m happy, I’m not focused on my weight cut at all for this camp.”
Even though that suggests Awad could go either way for his next fight after Quinn, he’s convinced that the best opportunities for him will come at 155 pounds.
“I’m gonna go back down to Lightweight. I feel like I need to get myself a title fight, and I know I can do it at Lightweight. I came up short a couple of fights that I thought I’d won, but I had lost, and I made some adjustments, and I feel like I want that belt. I want to eventually get it so I’m going to start knocking down whoever I have to fight and then hopefully get my chance to fight for the title.”
Getting into contention may mean taking a more cautious approach than the Brennan Ward fight, but Awad insists he has no regrets about any fight other than his losses by decision.
“I hate losing that way. When I fought Patricky (Freire) I broke my hand, but I thought I still probably pulled out enough to win and you know I didn’t. Then I fought Anderson (and) I thought for sure I won that fight because I took him down every round. We’re going back-and-forth, but for the majority of that I ended up on top except for the second round. I thought for sure I pulled out a win and then I lost that fight. Nobody wants to get knocked out, but I think I’d rather get knocked out so it’s proven that he beat me, like he really did beat me.”
Awad would rather give than receive, though, and with eight career knockouts in 19 wins he’s clearly got the power to do it. That doesn’t mean he’s taking Quinn lightly.
“I know he beat Waylon Lowe, he’s a tough dude, but yeah I know he’s game because Bellator won’t put me against anybody that’s not tough. If you look at the guys I’ve fought when I first started fighting in Bellator, the combined record was like 90 something and like three, or like five or something from the guys that I had fought. I don’t fight scrubs in Bellator. Either they’re known or they’re known somewhere else ... in Canada or Europe or whatever.”
A scrub may be a guy who can’t get no love from Awad, but Quinn won’t be hanging out the side of the Bellator cage hollering about his win, either. That seat is already reserved.
“I plan on going out there and scrapping, you know what I mean? It’s gonna be a fight whether he’s a top contender or he’s 7-0 in Bellator that nobody knows about, and he could be the dark horse in the Lightweight division. I know what I’m capable of and what I’m going to do and whether it was him or Chandler I’m going to fight him the same way.”
The reference to Chandler suggests he has his eyes on the Bellator “Sonnen vs. Silva” MSG card, and Awad is volunteering to step up if anybody near his weight falls class off before June 24, 2017.
“I hope I am healthy and I hope somebody does get hurt! No, I mean I hope nobody gets hurt bad, but I hope somebody does fall off that card because that would be an awesome card to fight at. I have family in New York and it’s the biggest card of the year, and why not?”
Awad may have family out East, but he hails from San Bernardino out West, a community that was struck by tragedy again the week before his fight. I asked Awad for his thoughts.
“It’s sad, it’s obviously sad, it happened right down the street from the high school I graduated from. It kinda hit home because it’s like ‘Dude - what if I never moved out of there, and my daughter was older, and some idiot came in the school like that?’ It’s scary knowing that shit like that happens, and there’s people out there that are obviously sick in the head and can’t handle life, and they do shit like that. It’s scary to think about but at the same time I’m not going to let anything get in the way of my focus on this fight.”
Our thoughts are with the families affected, but it’s also understandable that Awad has to keep moving forward ... and we look forward to his fight on Spike TV this Friday night.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here.