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Dillon Danis channels Conor McGregor: ‘After Bellator 198, I will run this company!’

Bellator 198 comes to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., this upcoming weekend (Sat., April 28, 2018, featuring the latest leg of the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament as former Pride FC champion, Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC), locks limbs with former UFC champion, Frank Mir (18-11).

The Paramount Network-televised event will also showcase a 175-pound Catchweight bout that will feature a famous friend of Conor McGregor, Dillon Danis, who signed with Bellator last year. Danis has yet to take a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fight, but that didn’t stop him from accepting a bout with six-fight veteran, Kyle Walker (2-4). The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace may be looking to step out of McGregor’s long shadow and claim a little glory of his own inside the steel cage. In the process, though, Danis has irritated some fighters with his brash talk, even drawing the ire of Jon “Bones” Jones by challenging him to a grappling match.

MMAmania.com recently spoke with Danis about trying to win his first MMA fight, although as Danis tells it, fighting is as natural to him as breathing air.

“When I started (jiu-jitsu) as a kid I always had the mindset of training for a fight. I always had that in the back of my mind, that you need to be able to defend yourself in a street fight. I always used to watch the ‘Gracie In Action’ videos and I always thought that would be cool to be able to defend the art like that or represent the art. So it was always in my head since I was a kid. I came up in an MMA school so there was always good MMA fighters around me.”

Something about the way Danis said “street fight” caught my ear, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise when he told me that had a rough-and-tumble childhood growing up in New Jersey.

“I mean, that’s why I started jiu-jitsu, because I got into a street fight. His friends wanted to jump me, and they used to try to jump me in school and stuff like that, so I needed to learn how to defend myself even better. So I ended doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Yeah, I mean that’s just a normal thing in New Jersey, just street fights and stuff like that so, yeah, that is very normal.”

Like many friends of Conor McGregor, Danis has benefited from the limelight such a “Notorious” fighter brings, but Danis insists there was no big secret to becoming part of his circle.

“There’s no crazy story to it. We were just, you know, we were friends online and you know we would talk, and we ended just saying, ‘Hey do you want to go train together? Let’s do this.’ And then I ended up going to Ireland and becoming really close friends, and it’s been like that ever since.”

Danis makes getting the ear of “Mystic Mac” seem less mystical, but even celebrity fighters with seven million followers take notice on social media when you win world jiu-jitsu titles before the age of 20.

“Became the world champion — I think I was 19 when I won the World (Jiu-Jitsu Championship) to be honest.”

And as a world-class jiu-jitsu artist, Danis is well aware of the caliber of talent at Bellator 198, reminding both the readers today and the viewers Saturday to “not forget” about men like the undefeated Rafael Lovato Jr. (7-0) on the card.

“You know it’s cool to be able to be on the same card as (other) jiu-jitsu (stars). Anything that’s making jiu-jitsu more well known or anything like that it’s a plus for me because that’s what I devoted my life to. So, yeah, it’s very cool to be able to see jiu-jitsu guys striving.”

Both McGregor and Danis have some haters out there; however, Danis says that he can’t spend time worrying about what they think or how they feel.

“I don’t know why being friends with him would make people think I’m an asshole or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t really bother me the people that don’t know me what they think about me. If anybody meets me they know what I’m like and, uh, yeah I don’t know. I am who I am.”

As a famous sailor once said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” Here’s another thing Danis isn’t worried about — Kyle Walker. Danis seems ready for any man regardless of their record.

“He’s just another man in front of me to be honest. I’ve been preparing for a world championship (level) fight. I don’t see myself like this is like a end-all, be-all ... you know? I’m training to be the best so it doesn’t really matter about him or anything like that. I feel like there is no opponent when you fight, so, I wouldn’t say I really worry about his skill set or anything like that because I am prepared to face the best.”

Walker may not be thrilled to know Danis thinks of him as a stepping stone, but if Walker wants to prove him wrong he can always do what Zach Freeman did to Aaron Pico. Danis, though, finds that prospect unlikely.

“I feel like this man is a sacrificial lamb. This is a one man show and everybody’s tuning into this card to watch me. Let’s just be honest about that. I feel like after this fight I will run the company.”

If that comes across as the kind of arrogance that Conor’s detractors and opponents have noted before, then maybe it’s just more reason to watch Danis fight Saturday night. That’s what he’s counting on. Whether you like him or not, you’ll be paying attention.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Fedor vs. Mir” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.