Tonight the always exciting and entertaining Bellator Fighting Championships will be taking over the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas for another night of nonstop action.
Featherweight champion Joe Soto will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage since winning the title at the end of last season. Soto is set to square off with UFC veteran Diego Saraiva in a non-title, catchweight “Super Fight.”
The card also features the highly anticipated semifinals of the Bellator season two welterweight tournament.
Recently, Bleacher Report had the opportunity to speak with tough and tested welterweight semifinalist Dan Hornbuckle about the allure of Bellator, his father’s influence, and his upcoming bout with Steve Carl.
“The tournament setup,” Hornbuckle said when asked what drew him to Bellator. “It’s not set up by matchmakers, it’s by your performance, and of course the payday’s not exactly a bad payout from the tournament either.”
Judging by his quarterfinal round performance against Tyler Stinson, it’s easy to see why Hornbuckle prefers to control his own destiny.
While Hornbuckle may not be well known amongst the casual MMA fanbase, those in the know are well aware of just how talented he is. With a 20-2 career record—including a KO win over Japanese MMA legend Akihiro Gono—Hornbuckle could just be the best fighter you’ve never even heard of.
Hornbuckle credits his father’s influence for much of the success he has had thus far in his career.
“He was the one that taught me how to be a competitor, not just during competition but in life. He taught me common sense and taught me how to be a survivor—how to be a hunter and not the prey.”
That “hunter” mentality is the cornerstone of Hornbuckle’s approach inside the cage: always pressing the action, always looking to finish the fight. But being a hunter is about more than just aggression; it’s about having the ability to evolve with every situation—evolving to put the odds back in your favor.
“It’s ever evolving, that’s why I love mixed martial arts; it's constant competition against yourself to better yourself and hone your skills to the next level and become better than what you were.”
Now better than ever, Hornbuckle looks to get past fellow semifinalist Steve Carl and take his place in the Bellator season two welterweight tournament finale—one step away from the opportunity to challenge reigning Bellator champion Lyman Good.
“Man, two different leagues bro,” Hornbuckle said when asked about his opponent. “That’s not arrogance on my end. He’s a submission specialist...okay. Well, what’s he going to submit me with when my fist is down his throat?”
Even though Hornbuckle’s two career losses are both by submission, Carl’s submission prowess doesn’t worry him much.
“A couple months ago I moved down to Coconut Creek, Florida to train with American Top Team. So you have a room full of black belts who are phenoms and experts in jiu-jitsu. On a daily basis rolling with them and unless he’s better than them, he’s going to have a long night if he thinks he’s going to submit me.”
Supremely confident Hornbuckle is ready to make his name known and his presence felt.
“Best case scenario, my fist right down his throat. Multiple combinations just chopping him down, he’s going to back down, and I’m going to go in for the kill.”