Bellator 219: “Awad vs. Girtz” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., March 29, 2019) at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., featuring a pair of Lightweight fighters in action as Saad Awad (23-10) faces the dangerous Brandon Girtz (15-8) in a crowd-pleasing main event slugfest.
That is to say Bellator MMA booked the bout hoping for a crowd-pleasing slobberknocker. And with 43 percent of Awad’s wins (10 of 23) coming via knockout thanks to his bionic left hand — the division’s original weapon of mass destruction — the deck is certainly stacked. At a time when Will Brooks looked to be an unstoppable juggernaut in the promotion, Awad finished him in just 43 seconds. That’s the kind of power he brings to a fight. While Girtz may be better known for submissions (eight) than knockouts (three), he delivered a bloodbath at Bellator 181 that fans are still talking about today. There’s a reason he’s called “Hurts” Girtz ... and it’s not because you can ask him for a car rental.
MMAmania.com recently spoke with Awad about bouncing back from a loss to the aforementioned Henderson this weekend, as well as if he has any regrets about his last fight.
“I think my only main regret is getting frustrated because I noticed when I got frustrated I was worried more about the dirty tactics he was doing than actually fighting. The more I worried about stuff, the more he took from the rounds and the more he won those rounds. I learned a lot from that, I learned a lot in my own game and my own self, and I’ve just got to move forward and go on to the next one.”
Even though hindsight is 20/20 for Awad, he’s willing to concede that Henderson achieved victory by doing what he needed to do ... “dirty tactics” or not.
“Yeah, I mean he fought a smart fight. He fought the smartest fight he could have fought against me, you know what I mean? I think they thought they were going to submit me and that didn’t happen, so he won by points. I should have been a little bit busier. I was as busy as I could be at the time, but I think there’s a lot of adjustments I could have made that would have made a big difference in the fight. Now I know moving forward and hopefully I won’t let it happen again.”
If there’s any time for Awad to make adjustments, it’s definitely before fighting Girtz because he’s not a man any fighter in the division can afford to be lackadaisical with.
“Whenever you fight somebody you’re going to look at their last fight and that’s what you’ll usually go by — especially if they lost. Brandon Girtz is a striker, but he’s a wrestler at heart and I’ve seen him go out there and just wrestle guys to get the win. I don’t see this fight being any different. I think he’s going to go out there with a smart gameplan and try to execute his gameplan as good as he can. That’s what I would do if I was in his shoes if I had a wrestling background and I was fighting myself. I’d say, ‘Hey this guy lost because he got taken down and he got held’ and that would be my gameplan.”
If we’re being honest, though, Bellator didn’t put Girtz in the main event to fight a smart fight — it put him in there to have a war like his last fight with Derek Campos.
“I agree. I 100 percent agree ... and I think that’s just the warrior code that some of us have embedded in us, and he’s one of those guys that just has that in him. You know what I mean? I don’t think he’s worried too much about protecting his record or just trying to steal a win. I think he’s worried about going out there and just fighting, and that’s what it usually looks like. If he comes out there and fights the way he normally does, it’s going to be a fan fight. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to both duke it out, and it’s going to be a great fight. But who knows? Sometimes when your back is against the wall you have to fight smart.”
Awad’s got a point. When you consider that Girtz has lost four of his last five fights, he may realize that being a fan favorite isn’t enough — he has to prove he deserves to keep his spot.
“I don’t know if it’s the end of his contract or not, but he’s coming off a loss just like I am, and so we’re both going to go out there and try to fight to our best ability and probably the smartest way. I know I’m going fight the way I know how to fight and my style has always been the same, I never switch it up for anyone. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put on a great show.”
The reason Awad and Girtz get to put on a show, though, is because Lorenz Larkin withdrew from the card. Since Larkin is a friend, Awad checked in with him before things changed.
“I heard Lorenz was hurt. He’s my buddy you know what I mean? But, I heard from my management that Lorenz might be hurt. I know they were trying to work something out to see if he could still fight, so I called him directly. He said, ‘Honestly, yeah I don’t know if I’m going to fight’ and blah blah blah, so I said, ‘Okay that’s good to know.’ I mean that doesn’t make a difference for me, I’m still fighting the same guy, all it is for me is main event versus co-main event. It didn’t make a difference in my training or anything, but I did call him directly and he told me things aren’t going too good. He was trying to push through, but it just didn’t work out.”
While the fight’s ultimately the same for Awad either way, it’s a bigger spotlight to be the main event, which is why you can count on him and his bionic left hand to put on a show.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Awad vs. Girtz” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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