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April 22, 2024
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Bellator champ Johnny Eblen explains why he refuses to call himself the best middleweight in the world

Bellator champ Johnny Eblen explains why he refuses to call himself the best middleweight in the world

During the recent PFL vs. Bellator press conference to showcase the special champion versus champion matchups, Johnny Eblen corrected a reporter when he was quoted as saying that he was the best middleweight in the world.

Eblen paused and then emphatically stated that he’s never actually made that declaration.

In a sport filled with fighters more than willing to tell anyone who will listen that they are the best in world, Eblen explained why he’s not willing to make that statement despite reigning as the current Bellator middleweight champion.

“Because there’s days where I feel like I am [the best] and there’s days where I feel like I’m not,” Eblen told MMA Fighting. “It doesn’t matter. Really, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The people around me though, they truly believe I am and there’s days I truly believe I am. There’s days where I don’t. I feel like it’s life and that’s just what I’m going through right now.”

That kind of brutal honesty is refreshing, but make no mistake, Eblen has absolute confidence in himself matched up against anybody else in the world at 185 pounds.

He may not shout to the heavens that he’s the best middleweight in the sport, but Eblen knows he’s on that short list, and that’s all that really matters to him.

“The only thing I’ve ever stated is I feel like I’m one of the best, if not the best,” Eblen said. “I don’t know. I’m not certain about anything. I like my probabilities when I face everybody, matchup-wise, in the middleweight division. I like my probabilities, but forget that s***. I’m trying to become the GOAT. I’m trying to become one of the best to ever do it, so who gives a f*** if I’m the best in the world at middleweight.”

There will come a day when Eblen thinks about his impact in the sport, but that’s not something taking up space in his brain as he enters the prime of his career.

“I’ll circle back to it when my career is over,” Eblen said. “I’ll sit down and say, ‘I was the best.’ I’ll look back at it. I don’t want to sit here and try to make things bigger than they really are. I’m just here to f****** fight motherf***** and collect a paycheck right now. That’s all that really matters to me.”

Eblen, who faces PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay on Saturday, also knows the perception out there that if you’re not fighting in the UFC, you can’t be considered the best in any particular division.

No one argues that the UFC is the biggest promotion and the majority of the consensus top talent in the world resides there, but that doesn’t mean the UFC has the absolute best in every division. But that’s also part of the reason why Eblen isn’t going to waste time arguing about his standing in the weight class, because it really serves no purpose until he gets the chance to face the best middleweights across every promotion.

“That’s why it’s f****** hard for me to just state it,” Eblen said. “It doesn’t make sense. There’s no cross-promotional stuff, I’m stuck in a contract, those fights can’t happen. I like my probabilities. I think I can beat all these motherf******, but until I do, I can’t factually state that.

“That’s why I say I’m one of the best, if not the best, because I don’t know. I won’t know until I fight all these motherf******. Time will tell. Once I beat all these motherf******, then I can sit down and say, ‘You know what? I was the best in the f****** world,’ and really go through it.”

As much as he appreciates the people who already call him the best middleweight in MMA, Eblen promises he has bigger goals in the sport than just serving as the king at 185 pounds.

Ideally, Eblen wants to insert his name into the conversation among the best fighters across all weight classes, so until that happens, he’s not going to lose much sleep about where he sits at 185 pounds.

“F*** all this middleweight talk,” Eblen said. “I want to be pound-for-pound one of the best.”

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