Bellator returns to California on Sept. 7 featuring a heavyweight title fight in the main event between (C) Ryan Bader (27-5) and Cheick Kongo (30-10-2) as well as kicking off the promotion’s featherweight tournament. In true homecoming fashion, Gaston “The Dreamkiller” Bolanos (5-1) has been tabbed to open a third straight San Jose card against Daniel Carey (6-3) in front of friends and family and couldn’t be more excited.
“That place is electrifying,” said Bolanos. “It’s amazing, it’s exhilarating.”
“I don’t know what it is about San Jose and the Bay Area, I mean there’s always been a lot of Muay Thai in the Bay Area. Obviously since the Strikeforce days there’s always been Strikeforce cards in there but that arena, man it’s something else.”
“It’s just amazing, and being able to open the main card the last two times has been just like, it’s a different ballgame compared to the prelims.”
A Muay Thai specialist by trade, the highlights have come from a technical striking base rooted in explosive movement. With lethal elbows and crisp setups, Bolanos’ popularity has continued to grow. All five of his wins have come by way of KO/TKO and have been able to garner the attention of major outlets in the process, which has served to keep “The Dreamkiller” in a more grounded state.
“As a fighter you’ve got to have, you know you can experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” said Bolanos. “You know I have had one loss through a triangle choke, and you know it was devastating. It wasn’t a good time in my life; I was going through a divorce at the time. You know my head wasn’t right to step in there, no excuses.”
“My opponent was better than me that night and, you know, that’s something that happens in MMA but you’ve got to have a short memory where it comes from the highest highs and the lowest lows, you know, you can’t ride that horse for too long because man, you start to believe that you’re invincible and there’s no such thing in MMA, nobody’s invincible. Anything can happen in any given day and you’ve got to always be working, always stay hungry, and always try to get better.”
As the highlight reel grows and fans continue to discover one of Northern California’s hottest prospects, Bolanos was able to be featured not once, but twice on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast, it’s been a special experience getting to know the long-time UFC commentator and comedian.
With a polished stand-up arsenal, Bolanos has kept himself committed to sharpening his entire skill set in order to become a more well rounded mixed martial artist
“Try to mix it all,” Bolanos said. “I try to work on it all, I have a fairly packed schedule every week where about half of it is grappling and about half of it is mixing it all together really because you can’t just focus on one and expect to, for all of it to blend in together when you step into the cage.”
Looking ahead to Bellator 226, and the beginning of the promotion’s Featherweight World Grand Prix, Bolanos’ name had been thrown around as a dark horse to enter the mix and while a shot at the belt and the tournament would have been nice, Bolanos’ believes that there are plenty of fights to be had within the organization.
“When it comes to MMA I believe that I’m still growing,” said a candid Bolanos.”I’m still, I’m just scratching the surface of what I am going to be in the future once I can mix it all together the way I know I’ll be able to one day. So I’m not disappointed, I believe that it’s probably not the last tournament there’s gonna be, it’s not the last big opportunity of my career.”
“It’s been a good learning experience so far with Bellator, like you just said I’m only 5-1, this is only my seventh fight, a lot of these guys in the tournament have more fights than me, so I’m not mad about it. I wouldn’t necessarily mind if I was in it or not, but yeah, like I said I’m still growing and I’m still trying to get better and improve so it’s not a big deal. There will be more opportunities in the future and I’ll make sure of that.”
Bellator 226 goes down on Sept. 7 from the SAP Centre in San Jose, California and can be found exclusively on DAZN with prelims starting at 6:45 pm EST and the main card at 10 pm EST.