When it comes to his first two bouts of 2018, bantamweight Ryan Lilley couldn’t be much happier with how things have turned out.
Versus Gareth De la Cruz in April for Gladiator Challenge and then against Jordan Winski in the LFA in July, Lilley was able to pick up two consecutive first-round TKOs.
“I don’t go in there with a game plan,” Lilley told MMAWeekly.com. “We just look for opportunities and we take full advantage of them.
“I go out there and I just feel it out. I don’t go out there thinking that I have to exactly do something. I train so hard so many hours a day, so to fight is more like a reaction. You go out there and react.”
In addition to training at The Body Shop gym with various UFC talents, Winski also has Hall of Famer Bas Rutten supporting him every step of the way.
“(Rutten has) been there for me since day one,” said Lilley. “He was at my amateur debut fight and my pro debut fight. He will be there for me (at my next fight).
“I can’t say enough good things about Bas. He treats everyone equal. I’ve met a lot of stars and they tend to get a big head, but not Bas. After losing my parents to cancer, I really look at him like a father figure and role model.”
At LFA 48 in Kearney, Neb., on Friday, Lilley (9-3) will look to take his career one step further when he faces Raufeon Stots (9-1) in a 135-pound main event.
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“I’ll go out there and feel (Stots) out and see where the fight takes me,” Lilley said. “If he wants to stand, cool; we’ll stand and bang. If he wants to try to take me down, I’ll stuff his takedowns, break his will a little bit, and take him back up.
“Stots hasn’t fought all year, so who knows if he’s different a guy? I’ll go out there and feel him out, and lay hands on his chin. My goal is to go out there and put on a show.”
With many feeling that Lilley is on the cusp of taking the next step in his career, his bout with Stots could be just the thing to take him there.
“I definitely take it fight by fight,” said Lilley. “The next biggest fight is the fight ahead of me. You’re only as good as your next fight.
“The LFA told me that the winner is most likely going to get a call to the UFC. I can see (it not happening) if it was a boring fight, but I’ve never had a boring fight in my whole life. I don’t see that ever happening.”