Bellator 220: “MacDonald vs. Fitch” takes place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., this weekend (Sat., April 27, 2019), streaming exclusively on DAZN. One more opening round fight of the Welterweight Grand Prix remains as Rory MacDonald (20-5) faces Jon Fitch (31-7-1, 1 NC), putting his Welterweight title on the line in a potential five-round bout. Earlier in the evening, Lightweights will take center stage as rising star Adam Piccolotti (11-2) will look to knock off a seasoned and wily veteran in former multiple-time world champion Benson Henderson (26-8).
After enduring a rough start to his Bellator MMA career, Henderson has been on a bit of a roll lately, picking up back-to-back wins in an exciting scrap with Roger Huerta and a grueling three-round battle with Saad Awad. A third straight win gets Henderson one step closer to another world title shot. Piccolotti, meanwhile, finds himself in the exact same position. After his undefeated record was snapped by a two-fight skid, he successfully returned to his winning ways by finishing Carrington Banks and then taking a hard fought win over veteran James Terry. He, too, is likely a big win away from being on the short list of contenders.
MMAmania.com recently chatted with Piccolotti about how he’ll handle the challenge of yet another well-seasoned opponent in the friendly confines of San Jose, where he has won six out of seven fights to date.
“Man, it’s my home. It’s my home away from home. You know I’m from right up the road, and I do pretty much all my training out there. I love the energy, I love the venue, I love everything about San Jose and the SAP Center and fighting and performing here. One of those fights was at a different venue, but I love the SAP Center.”
That said, there were some things about fight James Terry he didn’t love nearly so much.
“Yeah, you know with James, I mean I knew James previously just from the scene. We had so many connections as far as training partners (and) coaches. It’s almost a wonder how we never personally trained with each other throughout the years. So there were aspects to fighting James that I really didn’t like. He’s not necessarily somebody on my ‘hit list’ like I like to say, but he’s a true vet, I’ve always respected James. But, yeah, fighting James was amazing. He’s tough as nails. He gave me a great 15 minutes of experience and I got to go out there and get a win against a real grizzled vet.”
It’s not a bad way to prepare for “Bendo” — Piccolotti can go from someone with 30 fights total to 34 for Henderson. And he knows the former World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran is a tough out.
“People always evolve, and there’s been quite some time since then and now, but Benson has made a lot of changes throughout the years in my opinion. He’s done some good, some bad, but he’s still the same guy. He’s got all this experience in that head, and he’s got skills in all aspects. I feel really confident with the match up personally. I always have. Benson’s been one of those guys I’ve always respected, but I’ve always kind of wanted to fight, you know kind of one of those dream fights that I wanted back in the day.”
That dream has quickly become reality. Piccolotti had to wake up to the possibility of Henderson winning a “technical” fight as he’s done to so many other fighters in the past.
“He is in my opinion somewhat of a point fighter. Not to say that he doesn’t have the potential to end fights, so it’s definitely something that I’m not overlooking, but that’s generally been how he gets a lot of his W’s. Staying active and staying ahead on the scorecards, while looking for the finish is crucial in this fight.”
Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and Maniacs alike can be frustrated by a fighter looking to win as opposed to a fighter looking to finish, but Piccolotti believes San Jose will keep them on their toes.
“You know the last fight (with Terry) was actually the first time I ever got booed in San Jose. I had a lot of fans, but James Terry has a lot of fans as well. So that was kind of interesting, but it doesn’t bother me. This time, honestly, I know I have a lot of support in San Jose, but I know Benson has a lot of support historically — and rightfully so. If I get some boos and stuff like that here or there I’m cool with it, too.”
A win over Henderson might not catapult Piccolotti all the way to the top of Bellator MMA’s 155-pound division, but it would get him much closer to a world title shot.
“Absolutely. You know and the guy on the top right now is definitely on my hit list. I would love that opportunity, it’s definitely in Bellator’s hands as always, but I’d love that opportunity. There’s maybe one other guy that I’ve got my sights on, but yeah, I would like that (fight).”
Piccolotti didn’t reveal who that “other guy” was, but he was willing to break down the reason(s) he’s ready to challenge “Iron” Michael Chandler for the crown.
“There’s a handful of reasons. One is a little bit of respect. I know Michael Chandler has always been that name that people bring up when they’re talking about great fighters outside of UFC, so I definitely want to steal that from him. And honestly, I see a lot of holes in his game. People give him so much credit where I think I can exploit him. I don’t want to talk too much (about Chandler) especially with this task that I have in front of me, but he’s somebody that I want to get in there with.”
With a win over “Smooth” Ben Henderson, which would mark his third straight Bellator MMA victory, Piccolotti may get his wish sooner than later.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “MacDonald vs. Fitch” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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