Bellator 239: “Ruth vs. Amasov” takes place this weekend (Fri., Feb. 21, 2020) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., airing live on Paramount Network and DAZN. The Welterweight main event pits three-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion Ed Ruth (8-1) against unbeaten Ukrainian sensation Yaroslav Amosov (22-0).
Friday night’s card also includes a couple of Heavyweight bouts on the main card, one of which features Tyrell Fortune (8-0) facing former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Timothy Johnson (12-6). Johnson had several chances to reinvent himself in Bellator, but wound up taking knockout losses to Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov instead. Things don’t get easier for him with Fortune in his future. The collegiate wrestling standout from Grand Canyon University has (along with his twin brother Tyree) made a successful transition to mixed martial arts (MMA) by letting his hands do the work standing, scoring five knockouts and adding in a rear naked choke against a bitter rival for good measure.
“I was extremely satisfied (with that fight). It went exactly how I wanted to and predicted it (and had) seen it going down.”
Fortune’s opponent that night had over twice as many professional fights, and it’s no different for him going against the experienced Tim Johnson. Neither man impresses Fortune, though.
“Yeah, they’re both old and slow — and the first thing to go is your chin!”
There was levity and mirth to Fortune’s last response, but there’s equal conviction and seriousness in his next one when he says Johnson can’t handle what he brings.
“I’m developing every fight, every time I get up in the cage. I’m continuously adding things to my game. So I think it’s going to be really hard for Timothy to figure out what’s going on, and I think his reactions are going to be too slow. He plans to try to grapple and grind the match out but I don’t see that being very successful with my wrestling background, so it’s just one of those things where I think Father Time has just caught up.”
Does Fortune feel any sadness for the fact that “Father Time” has made once powerful fighters unable to withstand his onslaught?
“Fuck no! They sign the contract just like I do. They know the risk we take every time we step up in that cage, so no! If I think about that, I’m sure they’re not questioning trying to knock me out. So naw, I don’t feel bad at all.”
And as for those things that Fortune says he adds to his game every fight, he’s warning Heavyweights to watch for the left hand now being as good as the right.
“I would say my left hand has just gotten so much better, so much more fluid. I have been a working on it a lot (since) before Zu’s fight — it’s just that the right hand was there so much and apparent in that fight that I didn’t even work too much on (using) it.”
Fortune also says his ability to measure an opponent in the heat of the moment and calculate the right time to strike has improved rapidly.
“I really do look to read openings. I don’t ever try to force things, so if I see that something’s there and it’s working, I’m not going to go to something just because I want to do it.”
That’s not all. Fortune feels his training has really brought out the “mixed” in mixed martial arts to further his progression from amateur wrestler to high level fighter.
“I’ve been doing a lot more kicks, integrating a lot of wrestling in different ways and situations and positions. (I’m) just working on the game overall. I would say we always add on to my boxing and my kickboxing.”
If Fortune is improving that quickly and he’s already undefeated for his entire career, how much longer can it be before a world title shot is in the works?
“You know I have two fights left on my contract, so I really don’t see that being far away if me and Bellator can sit down and get something worked out. I think this next contract will definitely be moving into fighting the champion, fighting for the belt, because this weight class isn’t deep. With 8-0 I already have more experience than 65, 70% of the division, and the average age of our division is 42 — I’m 29. So I think that already puts me right there in the forefront. If I fight Javy Ayala and (Cheick) Kongo I’m right there, so that’s two fights. It all depends on who I fight next and what they’re looking at.”
Given Ryan Bader is both a friend and a training partner, that could be a little awkward if Fortune decides to challenge for the Heavyweight belt.
“We haven’t even talked about it, so it’s not even something that goes through our minds as far as us training. We just continue to try to learn from each other and improve and work with each other as much as we can. Obviously once that match up becomes very apparent, it will probably come into conversation, but right now we just use each other as best we can and keep getting better. It’s a part of the business and we both understand that and we both know that. Once it gets to that point we’ll have a sit down and conversate and do what’s best for both of us at that time.”
Until that time comes, look forward to seeing Fortune continue to do what he does best in a Heavyweight showdown with Johnson at Bellator 239 in Thackerville.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Ruth vs. Amosov” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.