Mandel Nallo is set to take the next step on Bellator’s lightweight ladder on Friday night.
Canada’s Nallo (7-1) will square off with Brazil’s Ricardo Seixas (9-2) at Bellator 255 in Uncasville, Conn. in his first action of 2021.
When looking at the landscape of Bellator’s lightweight division, Nallo, 31, believes his skill set ranks up with the best of the weight class, but said he still needs to prove he belongs there.
“It’s a pretty high-skilled division, but as far as my skill level, I think I’m right up there at the top,” said Nallo in an interview with MMA Empire.
“As far as what I’ve done in the sport thus far, I still have some proving to do. Hopefully, this week I get to move up a little more, and if they decide to do a lightweight tournament, that would be great.”
After a 7-0 start to his professional career, Nallo’s last two outings didn’t go as planned. In Oct. 2019, Nallo suffered his first loss, but in unfortunate fashion after suffering an ankle injury in the final round. In his most recent outing in October, his bout with Saad Awad was declared a no contest after Awad was unable to continue due to an accidental low blow.
Although the results of his last two bouts may have been bitter pills to swallow at the time, Nallo said he focuses on staying positive and not dwelling on what he can’t control.
“In a sport like MMA, you can’t get too caught up in the negativity. The fight I lost, I lost in a strange way. Then I spent a year trying to get a fight, then that one happened in a weird way as well,” said Nallo.
“You just kind of have to count your blessings; no injuries, life’s generally good. If you’re going to wallow in sadness, this isn’t the sport or job for you.”
The Tristar Gym product was originally scheduled to face Keoni Diggs (9-0) on Friday night before Diggs was forced to withdraw due to undisclosed reasons.
Although Seixas presents a different test stylistically, Nallo said he’ll possess the same edge he believes he holds in any fight.
“Obviously, I think that technically I have an edge. That’s what I think will pull through in every fight I compete in,” said Nallo.
“It’s no secret; every interview I say Tristar is a technical gym. We’re focused on technique and I think that’s what shines through in most of our fights.”
Although many restrictions due to COVID-19 have begun to be lifted in the United States, the majority of Canada is still under many mandates and restrictions, including a mandatory two-week quarantine when returning from international travel.
Earlier this year, the Canadian government imposed a new set of rules for travellers returning to Canada, which includes a potential stay in a government-authorized facility while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.
Nallo said there’s a lot of uncertainty involving his return to Canada and said he’s unsure what to expect when that times comes.
“We’re just kind of rolling the dice and seeing what happens,” said Nallo.
“I don’t really know what I’m in for upon my return. It’s kind of a gamble.”
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