Jared Lopez is the latest fighter out of that area benefiting from such an MMA-centric environment.
Lopez was selected by Bellator to face a very tough Fort Worth-based fighter, Johnny Bedford, at Bellator 19 this Thursday at Verizon Theatre.
In addition to his time training in West Texas, the Amarillo fighter has also spent quite a bit of time learning from legendary coach Greg Jackson at Jackson MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This will be the first time that the 31-year-old mixed martial artists will get a shot on the national stage and he looks to capitalize on the chance in order to advance his MMA career plans.
“I just feel fortunate to be fighting for Bellator,” Lopez said. “There are a lot of great fighters out there to pick from. I am going to make the best of this opportunity.”
“It is a chance to be seen and get your name out there. I have sacrificed a lot for this sport. To have a chance to fight for an organization like Bellator, feels like I am moving in the right direction in my career.”
Although Lopez isn’t very familiar with his opponent, he has faced one of Bedford’s training partners, Douglas Frey, on two separate occasions. With two losses against Frey, it is not surprising that Lopez realizes how challenging his upcoming Bellator fight will be.
“I am excited about it [Bedford fight],” Lopez said. “I always like to fight tough opponents. I feel that it makes you a better fighter in the end and Johnny Bedford is definitely a tough opponent. I have not seen a whole lot of film on Johnny, but from what I have seen he brings a very aggressive pace so I will have to make sure I come in shape. I am coming in to this fight expecting a war and I think the fans are going to get their money's worth.”
Lopez seems very aware of Bedford’s wrestling pedigree and plans on avoiding that aspect of the game at all costs. Instead, Lopez hopes to keep the fight in his comfort zone.
“My strategy is pretty simple,” Lopez said. “Keep it standing and knock him out that's what I like to do.”