Regardless of what anyone thinks, Anthony Leone is focused on only fighting the best

It’s a long trip for Anthony Leone whenever he has a fight scheduled in Bellator. After all, he trains full-time with Phuket Top Team in Thailand, although he occasionally heads over to Team Bombsquad in New York to prepare for his fights as well.

But this trip to the States must have seemed a little longer, and extra special.

Leone, 26, most recently succumbed to a Unanimous Decision setback against Rafael Silva at Bellator 102. That loss not only deprived him of his hopes of winning the promotion’s Bantamweight tournament – he lost his chance of getting a shot at the promotion’s 135-lbs title as well.

But not so long after, fortunes favored him. Lady luck was smiling brightly down on his side. Because now, he finds himself right on the title doorstep. Last month, it was announced that Rafael Silva was forced to withdraw from his 135-lbs title contest against Eduardo Dantas due to injury. Bellator then sought Joe Warren to face Dantas, but the former informed the promotion he was still rehabbing a previous knee injury, and would hence not be able to meet the timeline for the March 7th card.

With all options presumably tied up, there was only one man Bellator could turn to.

“Of course it (the title shot) caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting this at all. Not one bit,” Anthony Leone told Fight Sport Asia. “It means everything to me. When I got in this sport, all I wanted to do was to fight the best in the world and win the world title. So the time has finally come, now is my shot. I’m ready for this.”

After starting his career with a stellar tear of eight straight victories, Leone was, in fact, not taking this whole ‘MMA career thing’ seriously. He suffered four-straight losses in a spell that stretched for two years, although he admitted that most of those fights, which included tussles with notables Renan Barao and Georgi Karakhanyan, were on short notice.

Nonetheless, after setting his priorities straight, it was under the Bellator banner that the New York native truly flourished. He scored high-profile wins over Zach Makovsky and Frank Baca en route to the promotion’s 135-lbs tourney finals, but eventually came up short against the talented Rafael Silva.

 

But perhaps the loss was worthwhile because Leone now finds himself on the cusp of winning a world championship title. Good things, after all, do come to those who wait. Especially the ones who are willing to fight anyone, anytime.

“He (Dantas) is very good and dangerous. But he does have holes,” Leone said. “And I’m not in this sport to fight easy fights. I want to fight the best. I’ve fought the top guys for years now and it’s going to come down to who wants this more. And I am so hungry right now. I’ve trained very hard and I am completely focused on the situations that lay ahead for me.”

***

Phuket Top Team’s Anthony Leone (13-6) takes on Brazilian starlet Eduardo Dantas (15-3) in the main event of Bellator 111, on March 7th, for the Bellator Bantamweight Championship title. You can catch the fight, LIVE, on SPIKE TV.

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Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA writer. You can check out some of his work over on MMASucka.com. Follow him (@ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Bellator MMA, Featured, Interview, MMA, Phuket Top Team

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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