Daniel Madrid (18-6 MMA, 1-0 Bellator) will look to extend his win streak to six, which would match his career best, when he squares off with Johnny Eblen (7-0 MMA, 3-0 Bellator) at Bellator 258 on Friday.
Madrid acknowledged Eblen as a hungry, young, up-and-coming middleweight prospect. He believes his foe will look to implement his strong wrestling in their bout.
Daniel Madrid vs. Johnny Eblen
“I don’t think he’s really going to want to stand and strike with me,” Madrid told MMASucka. “But, who knows? Maybe he’ll surprise me. If he believes his Jiu-Jitsu is gonna be good enough to hold me off, for whatever, on the ground, then I look forward to the challenge.”
Eblen emerged onto the scene with Missouri-based promotion Shamrock FC before signing with Bellator.
Madrid, meanwhile, is a crafty veteran who has fought professionally since January 2006. His resume includes wins over Tom Gallicchio and Seth Baczynski, while he has also fought Ian Heinisch and Alex Nicholson.
Madrid said every fighter he faces is the most dangerous he’s faced each time he steps into the cage. He acknowledged the hype and excitement that Eblen brings into their match-up.
“I definitely look forward to derailing that train,” Madrid said. “I think my overall experience and years I have in this game will definitely be the deciding factor here.”
Madrid has a lot to gain with a win over Eblen, who is currently the No. 6-ranked middleweight in Bellator. Everyone at 185 is chasing champion Gegard Mousasi. Madrid, who is 37, said it would be “amazing” to end his career with Bellator gold wrapped around his waist.
“I understand that with my age, I’m on the coming out of this game,” he said. “It’s not too often you see men my age stay in this game much longer. I would definitely like to get as close as I can, if not, to the title. From there, I’ll reassess the situation with my wife and family, and we’ll make that decision when the time comes.”
Madrid said when he was 35, he gave himself two years before he would hang the gloves up. Two years have passed since then.
So, what changed for Daniel Madrid?
“This huge opportunity came with Bellator. Obviously, I couldn’t [retire]. Looking at it right now, I feel, I’m probably, if not, in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically. The fighter in me feels I can go another five to 10 years. Realistically, I’m probably looking at max two years. So I need to really get going, get active and keep pushing towards it.”
Madrid does not have a prediction for how his fight with Eblen ends, although he knows he’s in for a tough contest.
“I’m looking forward to battle itself. I know he’s going to bring his best attributes. I’m going to bring mine. We’re just gonna test against each other, and the better man will have their hand raised. Either way, we’re going to put on a hell of a show for Bellator.”
Bellator 258 is slated to go down from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Friday, May 7.