Bellator 181 “Girtz vs. Campos 3” comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. on July 14, 2017. Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos have split two previous encounters over the last four years, and now get a third and perhaps final chance to settle their differences.
Campos won the first encounter between the two at the same venue in 2013, taking the fight at a catch weight of 157 lbs. It came in the middle of a five fight win streak that put Campos on the road to a title shot, but Patricky Freire derailed his momentum at Bellator 117.
Almost the exact opposite happened following his second fight with Girtz. Following a rematch where Girtz knocked him out quickly at Bellator 146, Campos got back in the driver’s seat and reeled off three straight divisional wins. Completing the Girtz trilogy with a win may not earn him an immediate fight with Brent Primus, but it puts him high on the list of contenders.
“I just chalked it up to Anderson just being a younger cat, a younger guy who... I don’t know if he was completely focused. I’ve been there before in my career where I wasn’t completely focused and I missed weight, and I chalked it up to that. Also I chalked it up to the fact that he is a big guy, and when they approached me about me him missing weight, I was like ‘You know what? It is what it is.’ I was still going to go in there and fight him because that’s what I want.”
Campos got exactly what he wanted — a fight on the “Ortiz vs. Sonnen” card and another W on his record. Now he gets a trilogy fight where HE gets to be the bigger man (5’9” to 5’7”) with the longer reach (68” to 67”) instead of the other way around.
“I’m definitely gonna try and use that to my advantage — the reach and if I’m bigger yeah I’ll use it because my conditioning is on point. If I can go in there and use my physical superiority over him I will, and that’ll only make it that much easier because technically I also plan to be superior to him. I plan to beat him physically, technically, mentally, emotionally, wherever.”
That’s easier said than done though given Girtz negated the size advantage in their second fight. I asked Campos what his plan was to avoid being caught quickly in the same way this time.
“You know I’ve watched that video and I’ve watched all his most recent videos, and really it just comes down to staying technical and just moving and staying on the outside of that lead foot OR moving toward the inside but staying off the angle of his power hand. I’ve watched a lot of boxing and some southpaws, and I have a game plan going in there. Girtz is really explosive but (if) I stick to my game plan and I stick to the way I fight, it’s going to be a long night for Girtz.”
One might make the case it’s already a “long night” given Girtz is on the verge of a third straight loss. Campos admits that makes his opponent a little more dangerous on July 14.
“Absolutely. I’ve been there before. I was there in 2015, two straight losses, one of them being to Girtz. Any fighter that has his back against the wall like that, you know he’s a dangerous man. I’m going to take note of that. It’s going to be on his mind to, but at the same time, I have a lot on this that’s on my mind. I want to be a champion, I want to put bread on the table for my family, all these different things that come into play. When it comes down to it, he’s cornered, and I’m gonna destroy him.”
The X factor in all of this is that Campos was training for a completely different rematch in Thackerville when this new fight was made. To hear Campos tell it though the change from Patricky “Pitbull” Freire to Brandon Girtz in his camp was easy to make.
“It was basically the same. The only small adjustments that I am working (on) now is just to work against a southpaw, and working a little bit more wrestling defense. The wrestling and the wrestling defense is there, but just being a little more technical with it and a little more explosive with everything as far as the wrestling goes.”
If Campos doesn’t earn his way to a title shot after four straight wins, he says he’s more than happy to keep going out there and proving that he deserves it.
“I plan on going in there and taking care of business against Girtz, and then immediately after that I want the winner of ‘Pitbull vs Henderson’. Given the timeline that I’m thinking here, I should be staying active. Whether that fight happens toward the end of this year or next year, regardless, I look to stay busy against the top ranked opponents in my weight class.”
In summary Campos puts the outcome he wants from a third (and in his mind final) fight with Brandon Girtz into just a few succinct words.
“I look to go in there and finish this fight and end this whole deal with Girtz and send him packing.”
To see if Derek Campos can book Brandon Girtz a one way ticket out of Thackerville be sure to watch Bellator 181 on July 14.
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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