Bellator 181 comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., this weekend (Fri., July 14, 2017), with Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos looking to settle their score with a trilogy fight after trading wins and losses in their last two encounters.
The first meeting was at Bellator 96 back in 2013, a fight Campos won by unanimous decision after he failed to meet the 155-pound weight limit. That probably didn’t sit well with Girtz, so he avenged that loss with a first round knockout at Bellator 146 in 2015. Unfortunately for Girtz, things have not gone well since, suffering back-to-back losses to Adam Piccolotti and then moving up in weight unsuccessfully to face Fernando Gonzalez. Girtz will be coming back down to Lightweight for the third encounter with Campos.
MMAmania.com recently spoke with Girtz about opponents who miss weight, his standing in the 155-pound division, and whether or not we can expect another fight to end in less than one minute.
“I’m aiming for it! You know I’m definitely going out there to take him out as quickly as possible, but to say I’m gonna get him in 37 seconds again that’s gonna be a little foolish of me to think for sure.”
What may not be foolish, though, is Girtz feeling that a win like that could give him an edge over Campos for the rubbermatch this Friday night.
“Oh, I absolutely believe I do (have an edge). Any time you lose like, a fighter loses like that, that don’t go away. That’s gonna be in the back of his head for sure.”
Having suffered two losses of his own in a row, Girtz is not taking anything for granted in his next fight, though he does feel there was a significant weight factor in the Gonzalez fight.
“It’s a loss, but there was a lot of factors in that one. It hit hard because it was a fight I thought I won. Definitely with all the weight issues (for Gonzalez) and things like that, I went up, I fought a much bigger man, you know? I weighed in on that fight at 165, he weighed in at like 174. There was a lot of factors in that fight, but you take away from it what you can.”
In addition, it can at least be argued there was questionable scoring when one judge gave all three rounds to Gonzalez after Girtz almost completely dominated the first round with takedowns.
“When you go in there, you take a guy down 10 times, you know I’ve never done that in my career. It definitely caught up to me in that third round, and it played a little factor in my head. I thought I had won rounds one and two. I even remember in the middle of round three I thought to myself, ‘You know I’m winning, but don’t give him a 10-8 round’ because he was hitting me a lot.”
A 30-26 score for Gonzalez begs the question why a dominant third round was 10-8 Gonzalez for striking, but an equally dominant first round wasn’t 10-8 Girtz for takedowns.
“It was definitely a tough fight. I mean after re-watching I still felt like I won, but the second round was definitely a close round, I can see people going either way on it. That’s the crappy part with judges. You don’t know that they’re looking for. There’s no unified way to judge a fight. It’s called mixed martial arts, and when you dominate somebody in one category, I feel like it should show for something.”
Be that as it may, Girtz will have to let it go and focus on Campos next, who coincidentally enough he lost the first match to when Campos also missed weight, but Girtz won’t blame it on that.
“I go in there to fight my fight. When I don’t fight my fight — that’s aggressive (and) taking the shots when they’re given for takedowns — it doesn’t turn out well for me. I’m an aggressive fighter, I’m an emotional fighter, I go in there to take somebody’s head off. When I try to do a different kind of ‘smart’ fight, it never turns out well for me.”
Campos was originally set to face another aggressive fighter in Patricky Freire so there may be some similarities in the overall approach.
“I think on the feet me and (Patricky) are the same, but the difference is I’m an all around fighter. I take people down, I throw heavy, and the fight can go either way.”
So what gameplan does “Cold Roll” Brandon Girtz put into effect to be assured he’s the “aggressive” fighter from their second fight and not the “smart” fighter from their first?
“You know I have no gameplan. I’m not thinking I’m gonna take Derek down. When I get takedowns, they’re because they’re open. I took down Gonzalez 10 times because they were wide open. I wasn’t planning on just keep taking him down like that, it was just instincts take over and they come.”
And despite having to follow a blockbuster Bellator card in New York City, Girtz feels the time is right to step into the spotlight in Thackerville. In fact, he may be better off as a result.
“I think if anything that that last card brought a few more Bellator fans that will be tuning into their next card, which is me and Campos. I think it was a great card and maybe we’ve got some new fans.”
Bellator has new fans and a new Lightweight champion, but Girtz thinks even a dominant main event win may not be enough to propel him to contention in a reshuffled division.
“I feel like there’s going to be an immediate rematch. There’s no argument from me on that. Obviously, I don’t like to see that just because it backs it up a little bit, but I definitely see why they would do that.”
Even if the winner has to wait for “Primus vs. Chandler 2” to happen first, you still don’t want to miss “Girtz vs. Campos 3” to see climbs a rung up that ladder to be next.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Girtz vs. Campos 3” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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