In the game of mixed martial arts, there are veterans and then there are veterans. Not many fighters are as young in life and as well seasoned as the man known as Ed "Wild" West.
At 27 years old, West carries a pro record of 16-5 over a career spent fighting for seven various organizations. Those organizations include Rage In The Cage, Desert Rage, Cage Fury, The IFL and Bellator.
West was recently the runner-up in the inaugural Bellator Bantamweight tournament, falling to current champ Zack Makovsky. This was West's only loss in over three years, with the previous loss coming twenty pounds heavier than his natural fighting weight.
He has trained under legends like Don "The Predator" Frye, and currently calls Apex MMA home in Tucson Arizona where he trains under rising star Joey Rivera and with his close friend UFC fighter George Roop, among many others.
The man has been around the block more than a few times and continues to grow as an athlete and as a staple in the Bellator bantamweight division. His first run down a Bellator bracket showed fight fans what a dynamic and capable fighter he truly is.
Those performances no doubt were very much the reason Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney invited West back for a second helping of tournament action for their fifth season to be showcased on MTV 2. Ed West was kind enough to share his take on his ambitions of becoming a Bellator champion.
The rise of a Bellator star is incredibly unique, given the tournament aspect of the competition. Whereas many top names in the sport are given anywhere from three to four months to prepare for one opponent, a Bellator champion may fight as many as four unknown opponents in a shorter frame of time.
Ed is no stranger to this challenge and discussed that angle in depth. West stated, "I'm going to have one month between my first fight and my second fight. I have already been told that round two of the bantamweight tournament is going to be on October 22nd. So that gives me about a month in between the fights."
He went on to explain, "That is much better than the previous tournament in which they only gave me three weeks. I fought three times in six weeks for the last tournament and that was a lot of stress on my body. It was very difficult to maintain my peak without getting hurt."
West added, "I found it more difficult to continue to make the weight every time. The first time I made weight to fight Bryan Goldsby, it was one of the easiest cuts I've ever had. I felt great, I felt healthy, I put on good weight afterward. Then three weeks later, I had to do it all again. It seemed like my body held on to the weight more that time."
By the final bout in the tournament, the cuts were weighing on him. "Then when I got to Kansas City to fight Makovsky, I found it very difficult to make the weight. It was like my body was put on a roller coaster, and it was rather upset with me for putting it through that. So making the weight back to back like that was a little more difficult."
That previous experience has become a weapon for West as he knows what to expect and plans on taking advantage of prior lessons. "This time around, I have a much better idea of how I need to do things. I know how to maintain my body, and how to stay healthy for the tournament. I plan on doing things a little better this time around."
Having fought for so many organizations, it appears West has found a home under the Bellator flag. He spoke of the appeal regardless of one minor critique he has of the organization. "I really like Bellator. The only thing I don't like about Bellator is the fact that I got shelved for a whole year. I fought Zack Makovsky at the end of October and that was my last Bellator."
He went on to say, "But Bellator has always treated me real good. They have always told me how much they liked me, and that they wanted me back. That shows in the fact that I'm the only one from the 135 pound tournament that they did bring back. All the other guys are not in this tournament."
West's return to the second season speaks volumes about the credibility he has developed among the brass in the Bellator front office.
West added, "The owner Bjorn Rebney has always been so super cool with me. He's like the nicest dude on the planet. He has always told me how much he enjoys watching me fight."
Well, Rebney will get his next chance to watch "Wild" West do his thing at Bellator 51 when he takes his first steps in the tournament against Luis Nogueira, a touted Brazilian wrestling champion. But don't ask West if he is concerned with the wrestling prowess of his first opponent of the tournament.
West stated, "Well yeah, but that's Brazilian wrestling. Everyone has been telling me about that, Brazilian national wrestling champion. Come on dude, if I told you I was the best Jiu Jitsu guy in France would you be impressed? Or what if I was the best Capoeira guy in Sweden?"
He went on to explain his position. "The Brazilians are not necessarily known for their wrestling. I just know his wrestling is not going to be on the level of a Makovsky, or a Joe Warren, that's just a given. I think every single dude I have ever fought has probably been a better wrestler than me."
West added, "Luis Nogueira, everybody that knows me knows I'm a very cerebral type of guy. I'm really big on watching video tape, I study my opponents a lot. I really believe that styles dictate fights and the way you fight any given opponent can dictate outcomes. I'm real big on watching a guy, seeing what his habits are, how he responds to pressure. I have watched this guy's fights so many times that I almost fall asleep watching them now."
As always his confidence is high. "I have a pretty good idea of how I want to play this fight, and the things that I want to do that I think are going to be really effective."
Other than the Brazilian wrestler, West has his eye on a few other threats in the field. "Obviously you never can count out Joe Warren. Even when the guy goes in there and just gets murdered he always finds a way to win. He is a very physically strong individual, and has got that mental attitude where he doesn't believe he can be beat."
He also added, "It shows in his fights, how many times have you seen that guy fight and the first round is a 10-8 or a 10-7 and he still manages to get the guy down and grind him out and somehow he gets the win. He did it to Pitbull, he did it with Soto, he did it with Marcos Galvao. So you never can really count out Joe Warren."
Another fighter he hold highly is Chase Beebe. "Obviously Chase Beebe is a very skilled competitor, with really good submission skills, and a good wrestling background. He has fought a lot of top guys with real good experience." West also included one final note, "The other guy I'm looking at, although I think he might be slightly overrated, is Eduardo Dantes."
With all that being said, the ultimate goal is current Bellator bantamweight champion Zack Makovsky, a man who has defeated West before.
When asked what he might like to see differently if he reaches that goal, West offered a very humble answer.
There was a multitude of things that happened leading up to that fight that just resulted in my poor performance. For one I just had a really bad game plan. I figured there was no way he could spend a half hour in my guard and not get submitted, and I turned out to be wrong. So I just gave up more takedowns than I should.
He closed out the humble statement with one final claim of confidence that reflects the drive and desire that has followed West throughout his impressive MMA career. "If I fought him again, I just think there are some things I would do differently, or rather I should say when I fight him again."
If his previous run in the Bellator tournament is any indication of the platform he has used to improve over the course of the last year, there is no reason whatsoever to believe it will be anything other than "when" he faces Makovsky again.
Tune in to MTV 2 every Saturday night to see how this and other Bellator tournaments will play out.