Former UFC fighter part of Bellator’s Season 6 welterweight tourney
In the eyes of Brian Foster the current landscape of mixed martial arts is something akin to the wild west.
The hard-scrabble Oklahoma native embraces the belief that it truly is every man for himself, and what better place to employ this mentality than the tournament structure of Bellator Fighting Championships.
He will return to the spotlight nearly a year after his departure from the UFC, and much like the gunslingers of the days long past, he’ll do so with a chip on his shoulder and bad intentions. Foster faces David Rickels in the opening round of Bellator’s Season Six welterweight tournament, and he sat down with HeavyMMA to talk about his road to redemption.
“After falling out of the game the way I fell out of it, coming out guns blazing is going to feel great,” Foster said. “My situation with the UFC created so much negative attention and speculation about my past injuries that people start to question your ability to overcome adversity. I’ve been proving people wrong my entire life, and proving to everyone who doubted my ability to keep my career flourishing has been a huge motivation throughout this entire process. Getting back in front of a crowd and on a stage like Bellator helps me accomplish my goal of showing people I’m not going anywhere and I can not only do this, but do it well.
“When I whip Rickels’s ass, it’s going to send a message that you can’t count anybody out. It’s also going to send a message to the UFC that you can’t just write people off. I’m not going to lose any sleep at night, but other people will. I got injured working hard in the sport that I love and found myself in a place where they didn’t want anything to do with me.
“The biggest thing I want to prove is I’m still here and I’m very much a threat to anyone I’m getting in there with. No matter how much of an underdog I’m made out to be, I still have that chance – and that is all I’ve ever had since becoming a professional fighter. Over all of that time I haven’t changed who I am a bit. I’m a warrior who is coming at you with everything I have. It’s a fight. I’m not a competitor. I’m not a performer. I’m a fighter. I’m coming out there with bad intentions, and that’s just the way it is.”
The first step on his personal quest comes against Rickels at Bellator 63 on March 30. Stylistically, the two fighters are drastically different. And while Foster respects his opponent’s accomplishments, he believes experience makes the biggest difference.
“He’s good, and his resume speaks for itself,” Foster said. “He’s undefeated and been able to do his job thus far. I think he’s never faced anyone like me, and he’ll realize that once the fight starts. There are a lot of tough guys out there, and you have to prepare yourself differently for every one of them. This will be a learning process for him. I’ve already been through it and everyone is going to see how this plays out. It’s a different ballgame with me, and he’s about to find that out.
“In this fight with Rickels, he’s not going to come out and try to lay on top of me. In fact, it’s actually the other way around – and he’s hoping I take him down so he’ll be able to work his game from the bottom. He likes to play the standup game a little bit and he tries to be smart and funny about it. He can try all he wants, but he better be prepared for a fight because that’s what he’s getting. Then he can joke about his nose being broken afterwards.”
As a promotion, Bellator has been making continued progress since breaking onto the scene in 2008. Working behind the tournament format and a steady fight schedule, the organization has been able to establish its divisional pictures. With that being said, the 170-pound weight class is arguably the promotion’s deepest, and Foster is a solid addition to a talented field.
“I don’t really care for all the hype that goes into the build-up for this tournament because it’s all just talk and speculation,” Foster said. “The great thing about the Bellator format is people will be able to tune in during this opening round of fights, and based on what they see will be able to pick who they think is going to win the tournament. I can guarantee you that no matter who wins in the upcoming (lightweight title) fight between (Douglas) Lima and (Ben) Askren (at Bellator 64), the person who wins this season’s tournament will become the next world champion.
“It is important to come out and have an impressive performance, and this isn’t just for me personally, but for Bellator, as well. We have a lot of talent in this organization, and I think the roster in the welterweight division speaks for itself. As far as what matters to me on a personal level, hell yes I feel like I have something to prove. I have to come out and let the rest of these cats know I’m here and it’s not a good thing for them. It hasn’t been good for them since I signed that contract and when March 30gets here, the process will officially begin.”
Upon signing Foster to be a part of its sixth season, Bellator immediately acquired the excitement factor it needed to begin its next round of tournament action. Many fighters make public statements about looking to finish fights, but Foster lives and dies by this mentality and his record backs it up. Of his 23 professional bouts, there isn’t a single judges decision on his resume. The general topic of decision-heavy fighting is an issue that strikes a nerve with Foster.
“It’s not so much the fact fights are going to decision, but the fighters themselves bitching about the decisions,” Foster said. “It’s your fault, shut the f**k up and quit talking about it. I consider a fight a loss if it goes to the judges. Regardless if I walk away with the win or not, it’s a loss if I’m unable to finish my opponent. And I know every fighter says that, but it’s something I genuinely mean.
“It is my intention to go out there and finish the fight and make sure as my opponent, you don’t want a single minute more inside that cage with me. If we go to a decision, then we haven’t proved a thing to each other. We are letting other people decide who won the fight.
“If you get taken down and laid on for five rounds, it’s not your opponent’s fault. That falls on you for allowing him to do that. It pisses me and it hits a really crazy nerve with me. I hate crybabies to begin with, and if you can’t stop your opponent from doing what he’s good at, then it is your fault – plain and simple. That means you weren’t prepared for what he brings to the table.
“People talk about fighters who lay and pray, and while it’s a cowardly way to fight, if you are successful with that tactic, at the end of the day it means you fight your fight way better than I do mine. If I know what you’re good at and I’m not able to cause you problems anywhere, then I don’t deserve to be in there with you in the first place.
“It’s been a big topic in this sport for the past two or three years since fighters started using wrestling for what it is. Fighters began putting people on their backs and holding them there, and while it isn’t the exciting fight people want to see, if you as a fighter can’t stop it then you deserve to lose. Don’t cry about it. Don’t mouth off post-fight about getting laid on. Shut your mouth, and if you are going to say anything admit you weren’t prepared for the fight.”
With so much to prove and feeling he has a world in front of him to conquer, life has taken a positive turn for Brian Foster. The doubt and uncertainty of being cast aside left him in the shadows and forced him to dig deep within himself to find out what he’s truly made of. The results of his soul-searching are what he fully intends to put on display in his Bellator debut.
“I think David Rickels is getting beat up,” Foster said. “I don’t think his wrestling is good enough to take me down, and the only way he’s getting me in this fight is if he catches me. I’m going to stay moving, dance with him and see how much of this standup game he really wants to play.
“I’ve always been a crazy-ass Oklahoma country boy who is happy he gets to do what he loves to do, but now I’m hungry and feel like I have everything to prove. This fight will be finished, and there will be no judges decision in this fight. I’m finishing him or he’s finishing me. It’s kill or be killed. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, brother, and I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been.”