The lives of Lucas Neufeld and Cleveland Bentley have changed significantly since they each last stepped in the cage.
After getting engaged to his longtime girlfriend shortly after Christmas, Neufeld, 26, enters Saturday night’s affair with a slightly new outlook on his MMA career.
“It’s given me a greater purpose to achieve success in fighting because I’m now a provider for someone. I have to take care of this person,” said Neufeld in an interview with MMA Empire.
“If I’m really going to try and make a career of this, I need to prove my s**t, keep winning fights, keep winning money, and build our future together.”
But since that last fight, Bentley made the permanent move to Las Vegas where he now trains at Xtreme Couture MMA.
And while he has made strides in the physical aspects of his game since the move to Las Vegas, Bentley said his biggest improvements have come in the mental side of the game.
“Mentally, it’s really helped me just to see all these high-level fighters come in and out of Xtreme Couture,” said Bentley in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Being at Xtreme, I’ve seen every level of fighter and they’re all human to me, so no one really scares me anymore. I don’t really have those nerves about fighting strangers.”
Neufeld Branching Out
Neufeld said expanding his training camp to other gyms more frequently has allowed him to take on new challenges in training, which have helped him grow as a fighter.
“With the competition always going up, I need to be introducing myself to more higher-level threats,” said Neufeld.
As is always the case when he competes in Lethbridge, Neufeld will have the support of the crowd in a loud and substantial way come fight night.
Neufeld said the amount of support he receives fight after fight, especially in Lethbridge, is a force that truly drives him when he steps in the cage.
“It feels great; it fills my heart up. It’s not pressure for me. When I go out there, I’m excited to put on for these people,” said Neufeld.
“This is my family, these are my friends right there up close and personal. I love it; I love the energy and appreciate it from them.”
Bentley Not Phased
For Bentley, coming into enemy territory looking to spoil the party is a position he’s been in before.
He said the crowd noise or the jeers his way don’t bother him at all, and he just remains focused on the task at hand.
“It really doesn’t phase me at all. I really try not to think about anything Lucas is doing, his fans, or any comments,” said Bentley.
“It’s just like the Josh Kwiatkowski fight; I was expecting his teams to heckle me as usual. I just focus on the fight, and everything outside of the cage doesn’t matter.”
So far in his professional and amateur career combined, Bentley has yet to taste the glory of a knockout victory.
But coming in off his first full training camp at Xtreme Couture, Bentley said he feels that first knockout victory could go down Saturday night.
“I’m always ready for three rounds, but I think I can finish him on the feet,” said Bentley.
“I’ve been really working on being more aggressive instead of calm in my fights, and I’m going to really turn it up for him this fight. He’s in for a surprise if he thinks my style is the same as last year.”