They earned the opportunity, and now they will look to show why they belong.
Gibson Jr., 24, said receiving his Bellator shot just two fights into his professional career shows the potential the promotion sees in him.
“They see promise in me, obviously. They know what I’m capable of and now it’s time to showcase it to the world,” said Gibson Jr. in an interview.
“I always remind people that are always performing that you have nothing to prove to anybody, but you have everything to show. Don’t feel pressure with having to prove yourself; just show what you got.”
Much like Gibson Jr., Jones, 26, enters his Bellator debut just four fights into his professional career, all of which were contested under the New England Fights (NEF) banner.
Jones said he’s thrilled to receive his first shot on the big stage so soon in his career, and is looking to show everyone why he was given the opportunity.
“I think it’s amazing; it’s a dream come true. A lot of fighters, where I’m from, this is their dream, making it to Bellator or UFC,” said Jones in an interview.
“It’s a dream come true and a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills.”
Gibson Jr. now joins step mother and Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd in the promotion, who will be defending her title for the fourth time against Cris Cyborg in January. Gibson Jr. is also the son of former UFC fighter Lance Gibson Sr., who is also his head coach.
Gibson Jr. said coming from such strong ties to the sport of MMA through his family and team provides him with added comfort that his career is headed in the right direction.
“It’s awesome having my entire family in a tight-knit group of my coaches and training partners,” said Gibson Jr.
“It honestly feels like you know that you’re on the right path, and it’s all about a legacy we’re creating here. It’s going to be amazing to rock it and put B.C. on the map as well.”
But in order to get his Bellator run started, Gibson Jr. must first get by the more experienced Jones.
Although Jones holds the experience edge, both in professional and amateur competition, Gibson Jr. said he can and will finish the fight wherever it goes.
“My wrestling’s very good, my striking’s very good, I’m very good in the clinch and my jiu-jitsu is great. No matter where the fight goes, I see myself reigning supreme,” said Gibson Jr.
“I’ve cycled through every scenario in my mind, and no matter where it goes I can honestly say I will finish the fight.”
With the bout being contested at 155 pounds, Jones believes he’ll be at a size disadvantage to Gibson Jr., having competed as low as bantamweight in his amateur career.
But Jones said what he may lack in size, compared to Gibson Jr., he plans on making up for with his speed.
“He’s definitely the bigger fighter, and I have to respect that fact. I’m not going to go in there head-strong and try to muscle him,” said Jones.
“I was always known for my speed in wrestling and martial arts, and I do think I’ll be the faster fighter.”
And while he will look to use his speed to his advantage in the cage, he also holds a significant experience edge over his adversary, holding four professional fights to Gibson Jr.’s two, as well as nine amateur bouts.
Jones said he’s not relying on his experience to help him come fight night, but said it’s certainly an area that could factor in.
“I’ve fought some guys that are more experienced than me, and it showed. There were things I was doing at the amateur level that didn’t really work against guys with experience,” said Jones.
“But in the end, he’s coming from a good gym and I’m coming from a good gym. So, we’re going to see how it all plays out.”
Gibson Jr.’s Shoutouts
“I’d like to thank my coaches (Lance Gibson Sr., Julia Budd), my training partners at Gibson’s MMA, and my sponsors (Strike Recovery and Performance, Angelo Paris at Apollo Sheet Metal, Roots of Fight).” Follow Gibson Jr. on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM
“I want to give a shoutout to my MMA team at First Class Fitness and MMA, my head coach John Raio, my family back home, my son, and my beautiful girlfriend.” Follow Jones on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM