Mads Burnell‘s duration in the UFC left a lot to be desired. After being unsuccessful in his promotional debut, Burnell returned to his natural weight and split his next two fights. A win over Mike Santiago and then a costly loss to Arnold Allen, led to his tenure coming to an abrupt halt. Many believe he was winning the Allen fight before getting caught in a choke in the the third round. However, Burnell isn’t dwelling on the past, or questioning what if.
Burnell said to MMA Sucka,”I don’t feel any grudges. It helped me become the fighter I am today.” Burnell is riding a six fight win streak and is in the co-main event Saturday evening at Bellator 263. The event takes place this Saturday live on Showtime. It’s being held at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The preliminary card begins at 7:00pm ET with the main card beginning at 10:00pm ET. Champion Patricio Pitbull (32-4) will defend his featherweight championship against the undefeated #1 ranked AJ McKee (17-0) in the main event. Eighth-ranked Mads Burnell (15-3) will take on #2 ranked Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5).
Only 27 years old, he is entering the prime of his career and has the chance to enter the title picture at 145lbs. Even with a win on Saturday, it might take him one or two more fights before he’s in that consideration. Burnell is skeptical himself, “I mean when you’re ranked you’re already kind of in contention right? I just saw a couple days ago that Jay-Jay Wilson and Adam Borics is going to fight for the #1 contender spot.”
The 145lb division in Bellator is arguably the best in the promotion and with a young crop in the top 10 (AJ McKee is 26, Adam Borics is 28, Jay-Jay Wilson is 23, Aaron Pico is 24, Mads Burnell is 27) it shouldn’t change in the near future.
Mads Burnell vs. Emmanuel Sanchez
His opponent, Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez, has already competed twice for the featherweight championship, being unsuccessful in both attempts. Burnell spoke highly of Sanchez, stating “He’s been a stable for Bellator for like almost 10 years” and that “he’s fought pretty much everybody.” Sanchez is coming off of a 1st round loss to champion Patricio Pitbull back in April, but still holds a top-five ranking and has been one of the very best the promotion has to offer. Burnell said “He’s a dog. That’s what I respect the most.” Burnell is 2-0 since signing with the promotion. He’s had back-to-back finishes after stopping Darko Banovic with strikes and then defeating Saul Rogers via rear-naked choke.
Burnell has enjoyed his time with the new promotion and it’s noticeable to the common eye. He stated, “It’s due to when you are at the events, everybody is like super nice. You feel wanted with Bellator. I feel like they want me there. And that’s a good feeling. I feel appreciated.” He is certainly not the first fighter to comment on how well they’ve been treated since joining the Bellator banner. Most notably, former UFC women’s featherweight champion and current Bellator champion Cris Cyborg has been an advocate for fellow fighters to follow in her footsteps.
No matter the outcome on Saturday night, Burnell has the desire to return to the Bellator cage in a timely manner, providing no significant injuries were to take place. “I saw that my homie Patchy is fighting in Dublin in November. So it would be cool fighting on the same card as him.” Of course referring to Bellator bantamweight Patchy Mix, whose bout with James Gallagher was just recently announced for November 5th at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. Taking on a former title challenger is no small task, but for Burnell, it appears there’s no better time than the present.