Enrique Barzola admires the beauties of Hawaii, but he is not on vacation. The Peruvian warrior will make a tremendous leap in exposure, because he will be in the co-main event of the Bellator 278 event, where he will face the dangerous Russian Nikita Mikhailov as part of a Grand Prix at 135 pounds.
Winner of Season Two of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America,” the South American recently signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator and debuted with a spectacular knockout against former world champion Darrion Caldwel. A win in Honolulu would put him in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Barzola, who is known as El Fuerte, comes from an intense camp at the legendary American Kickboxing Academy, which spawned such kings as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cain Velazquez and Daniel Cormier. He is absolutely convinced of his victory this Friday and then, later, he will enjoy the paradise in the Pacific.
They changed your initial rival, how did you adapt to the camp?
“This has happened to me in previous fights. I have changed opponents three or four times. This is part of this sport. But I’m still focused on this job, on my fight. I’m sure of what I’ve done in my camp and I’m going to win.”
What reading do you do of Mikhailov?
“He had just fought on the same previous card as me in Phoenix. He is a young fighter, very hungry. He is a young and skilled lion, but I don’t care, because I am a very experienced, seasoned fighter. I am a very experienced lion who does not give up in any area. When I wear it out and demolish it, I’m going to eat it. He’s not going to hold my competition pace.”
How was this camp?
“I did it at American Kickboxing Academy in California. I have been working with them for just over three years. Really happy with my team led by coach Javier Méndez. We have worked hard, but intelligently to take the victory for my team and for my country.”
You’ve fought in many places and logged thousands of miles, how about Hawaii?
“Hawaii is very beautiful, very beautiful, paradisiacal. It has happy people, but for a fighter it is difficult, because we are still on a diet, focused. Some get stressed. When you travel to another country it is to be focused on the fight. Relaxing is not good. You have to be calm, but without relaxing too much. Hawaii is enjoyed but there are no vacations”.
You come from achieving a spectacular knockout.
“Beating a former champion like Darrion Caldwell is a great motivation. If he was champion, I can do it. Bellator recognizes my work, that’s why they made me a co-star for the first time in my career. If I beat this Russian, I also hope to beat the next opponent who is another Russian, but I only think about Nikita. My mind is on the first goal”.
What would it mean to you to be a champion in Bellator?
“Mine has been a battle of obstacles, against the problems of life, family difficulties, economic difficulties, problems in your country, but all of that has to motivate you and not destroy you. I grab the difficulty to move forward. God gave me that gift. He chose me to be a fighter. In Hawaii I am going to show all my power. As a co-star, people will know me more in the world.”
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He’s in paradise, but this Latin warrior has no time for cars and only thinks about his rival from Bellator
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