The ear-splitting sounds of approval from fight fans could be heard throughout the night inside the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 175 did not disappoint and was a show-stopping attraction featuring the premiere and rising stars of Mixed Martial Arts today.
Reemerging after a year hiatus, Steve “Thunder Beast” Kozola proved his superiority within the lightweight division with a highlight reel finish of the night. Undefeated, Kozola is gradually creating a name for himself as a future star in the sport. Yet, dominating the competition has been the least of his concerns. An unblemished winning streak and thunderous downpours over his opponents, it all seems to have fallen on deaf ears of major fight promotions.
Kozola’s lack of opportunities to compete has been an uphill battle for the past two years. Many variables have played a role in this roadblock. The landscape of MMA has experienced a dramatic change throughout the years, where skills alone won’t guarantee a competitor a fight. Skills along with an appealing on air personality draws the biggest numbers. Those fighters that fit the requirements get more breaks in the big promotions, while the rest struggle, waiting in the foxhole to earn a spot.
Kozola is aware of this change and new rule set, however he has chosen a different route to making a name for himself, one that let his actions speak to get everyone’s attention.
“Being an entertainer is just as important as being an elite athlete in this business so if you’re going to be successful at a high level I feel you need to perform and entertain at a high level as well, “he said. “I would never change who I am to my core to be more entertaining but I will highlight certain attributes I have that will allow my entertainment value to grow along with my performances in the cage.”
Knowing one’s true potential, not being able to perform is a frustrating ordeal for any fighter. In what may have seemed like trying times, Steve Kozola never lost sight of his purpose. Through teaching, aiding teammates in their goals, and never neglecting his own training, self-motivation kept the dream alive, as he patiently waited for the phone call to spring back into action.
“It is vital to know how to think positive and motivate yourself. Take ownership of the situation and do everything in your power to put yourself in the best position to be successful. Create championship level habits in a championship level environment. Always look to grow and improve yourself and your surroundings.”
Patience and proper planning, the moment Kozola had waited for had finally arrived. Backed by a new management team in Tiki Ghosn, the eager fighter found himself back in action at Bellator 175. There was no denying Kozola had big plans in his long awaited return. Seizing that moment, a big statement was made that could be felt throughout the arena by Kozola in 28 seconds with a knockout victory over Jake Roberts, as he improved his undefeated record to 8-0. The victory in his home state comes as to no shock to Steve, as the battle was already won before he stepped into the cage.
“Going into this fight, I knew that I was going to win and win by finish and that’s all because I know I prepared myself physically, mentally and spiritually to the best of my ability. There was no way I was going to lose, especially in my home state of Illinois. I was blessed with an amazing opportunity and platform, I’m just thankful that I performed well and put on a show for Bellator and the fans!”
The night of fireworks didn’t end there. In his post-fight interview, Kozola held nothing back, as he touched on many topics from his interest in fighting regularly to potential future opponents.
“I wanted to let it be known by all that I am a real, authentic fighter who is ready and deserving to be active. I’ve put in my waiting time and I am ready to take on all comers. I am in the best shape of my life in every aspect and it’s time to show the world who I am. “
One fighter in particular that has caught the Thunder Beast’s attention, sitting in the crowd that night is newly signed Bellator lightweight contender Dillion Danis. A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black belt under Marcelo Garcia and the protégée of UFC Champion Conor McGregor, there is mass hype surrounding his arrival to the company. Reflecting on his own uphill battle acquiring fights, Kozola seems to have taken great offense to Danis’s easy road to becoming a Bellator fighter, something he looks to expose in a hopeful future encounter.
“Dillion Danis is fake, “proclaimed Kozola. “He’s trying to copy Conor McGregor and ride his coat tails to make more money than what he deserves. Bottom line is that he’s in Bellator, he’s asked for way too much and is getting in over his head. I’m the one who called him out and I’m the only one he should be fighting if he ever mans up and decides to fight.”
Will this fight happen? Only time will tell. However, one this is for sure, with his victory at Bellator 175, Kozola proved he is deserving of being an active competitor in Bellator FC.