Austin Vanderford Ready For Bellator Debut
On a weekend where Bellator’s welterweight grand prix takes center stage at Bellator 216, the night before at Bellator 215 in the Mohegan Sun Arena, we will see a new crop of 170-pound fighters under the spotlight.
One of the fighters focused on February 15th is Austin Vanderford, who is known by many UFC fans as the husband of Paige VanZant, but has carved out a path of his own, staying undefeated throughout his professional career.
Walking into the Bellator cage for the first time on Friday night, Vanderford spoke to FIGHT SPORTS about his excitement to showcase himself against Cody Jones.
“Feels awesome,” Vanderford told FIGHT SPORTS, “Opportunity presented itself, and it’s the benefit of being ready and staying ready, and now I’m on the main card.”
Looking at the world of fighting objectively, Vanderford tells fellow young fighters to “be ready and stay ready” in-case opportunities like this open up.
“I’m excited to go showcase my skills on a big stage, and I’m grateful that I have a tough opponent and someone that’s gonna push me,” the Bellator welterweight said of Jones, who has a four-fight stoppage streak prior to his Bellator debut on Friday night.
“All of my career I’ve said I want to go out there and compete with the best and test myself, so this is just another stepping stone for me and I’m really excited.”
While this is Vanderford’s first opportunity on the main card of Bellator, he’s had the spotlight shining on him before when he competed on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, when he submitted Angelo Trevino back in July.
“It’s on a big stage and it’s a big fight,” the fighter said of being on the main card on the Paramount Network. “You’ve gotta control those nerves, but nerves are good and if you’re not having nerves, you don’t care.”
“I’ve got a great management team and Bellator presented us an offer and we thought it was the best thing… I truly think (Bellator) is where I should be.”
With the organization focusing on the welterweight division in 2019 with the grand prix, Vanderford is looking to stay stride-for-stride with his weight class, telling FIGHT SPORTS, “I want to keep progressing with competition. Whoever I fight next, I guarantee them that they’ll have a fight on their hands.”
A reason many know Vanderford’s name is due to his famous wife, UFC superstar Paige VanZant, who has dedicated considerable time to travel with her husband around the world to train and support him for every fight.
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“It’s not as hard as it seems,” Vanderford said of balancing VanZant’s very public life, their lives as fighters, and their lives as husband and wife.
“We train together all the time. I rarely take much time off at all, and any time I travel with her for fights, we’ve got our coaches there with us. It’s not as much of a balancing act as it may seem. We both happen to love fighting and love competing.”
Here are 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Austin Vanderford
Bellator 215 airs on Friday night, February 15th on the Paramount Network from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut beginning at 9pm.