When Chad Anheliger was at the midway point of his current seven-fight win streak, Brady Hiestand was still in high school. And on Saturday night, they will meet in the Rise FC cage.
Anheliger, 32, is one of Canada’s top and hottest bantamweights with the winning streak he’s currently riding, and he said he wants to prove once again why he’s ready for the big stage.
“I am 100 per cent confident I’m ready to get in there with the best in the world in the UFC. I think I can beat half of those guys today,” said Anheliger in an interview with MMA Empire.
“The longer I keep fighting locally, it doesn’t hurt me; it just makes me better and more confident. I would love to move on and up, and if something happens right after this one, I’m most certainly ready for it. If it doesn’t, it’s not going to break my heart. I’ve been doing this a long time and I don’t mind doing it a little longer.”
For the youngster Hiestand, 20, this will mark a big step up in his career, in competition, stage, and stakes.
Hiestand said this is the beginning of what he’s been working his entire career for and is excited to test himself in the spotlight of a main event title fight.
“I’m only 20, so I’m still new and still growing, but I’m excited I’m taking these steps, and every time I take a step I succeed,” said Hiestand in an interview with MMA empire.
“I just hope I can keep doing that, and I’m excited to keep going. This is only the beginning and I want to keep growing as much as I can.”
New Opponent, Same Mindset
Anheliger was originally slated to fight Jamie Siraj, in what was set to be one of the most high-profile all-Canadian bantamweight fights in recent history on the regional scene.
When he first found out Siraj was injured and had to pull out of the fight, Anheliger said he was deflated, but quickly became amped when he heard the news of Hiestand accepting the fight.
“Big fights get me excited; that’s what I want when I fight. That’s why I moved up to challenge Craig Maclean and that’s why I was excited about the Jamie fight,” said Anheliger.
“I have to give it up to Rise FC and Sabah Fadai because they found me an awesome opponent. The kid has won nine in a row, he’s undefeated as a pro, he’s young, and he’s big. There was a little shock initially where I was kind of bummed about Jamie, but I still think I’m lucky to get such a good opponent on such short notice.”
With five of his nine wins coming via knockout or TKO and Hiestand being known for his grappling and jiu-jitsu skills, Anheliger said he believes he’s going to have the biggest advantage on the feet.
Anheliger’s last two wins have come by vicious knockouts, which has drawn the focus to his striking. However, he also holds three wins by way of submission, and said he’s looking to remind people just how well-rounded of a fighter he is.
“It’s the same for him as every other opponent, I know I can take him out on the feet. I’ve got better power, better timing, and more experience,” said Anheliger.
“There’s no doubt in my mind I can take him out on the feet, but I’m also pretty excited to get in there with a skilled grappler so I can show everyone how good my grappling is. I don’t always get a chance to show it off because I’m busy using my striking, but I’m looking to make a bit of a statement with this fight. I want to show everyone I can beat these guys everywhere.”
Hiestand a Bigger Challenge
With Anheliger bouncing back and forth between bantamweight and flyweight, he’s likely to be at a size disadvantage in this matchup with Hiestand, who has fought as high as welterweight in his amateur career.
Although he said his natural weight class is bantamweight, Hiestand said he knows he’s going to have a height and reach advantage on Anheliger, and said he expects it will work in his favour.
“I think the weight advantage will definitely be a help. I’m ready to go out there and just play my game,” said Heistand.
This will be Hiestand’s first title fight of his young career, both amateur and professional.
Given his age and undefeated record, he said adding a title and moving to 5-0 in his career would put him in an attractive spot.
“I feel like it would put me in a really good spot. A 20-year-old with a 5-0 record and a title would look pretty good to a big promotion in the future,” said Hiestand.
“It makes me feel good knowing the work I put in is working. I have a good team behind me, the best in Washington and even in the world, and I have a good support system. I’m just really happy with who’s in my life and I hope it shows.”