Coming off the heels of an undefeated 2018, CES bantamweight champion Tony Gravely was looking to continue his success in his first bout of 2019 against Kris Moutinho at CES 54 in his first title defense.
While Moutinho was able to push Gravely into the fourth round, the champion was able to ultimately come out on top, picking up a TKO to successful retain his title and pick up his fourth win in a row.
“Obviously starting the year off with a win is always great,” Gravely told MMAWeekly.com. “It was exciting. I guess you could say it went how I expected it to go.
“Chris is a tough opponent. It’s good to not only get wins over tough opponents, but to get another finish (as well) it started the year off right. I’m looking to keep the momentum going and keep the ball rolling.”
With nine wins in his last 10 bouts, Gravely feels like he’s been making the right adjustments in his game to be able to keep his success going in 2019.
“I think every year I’ve progressed and every fight I’ve progressed,” said Gravely. “I’m expecting bigger things this year than last year. I had a big year last year, but I’m expecting this year to be even better.
“I’ve consistently done the same things through time, and that’s what’s gotten me better. I’m consistent in my training. I plan on doing the same thing and consistently getting better.”
This Friday in Hartford, Connecticut, Gravely (17-5) will look for his second straight successful title defense when he takes on Darren Mima (10-7) in a 135-pound championship main card bout at CES 55.
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“Darren is a tough opponent,” Gravely said. “All technique aside, he’s a tough guy. I like fighting people like that. Technique is very opponent, but when you get into the later rounds it’s a battle of wills. It’s (comes down to) who is the toughest and is not going to quit.
“He’s tough, but I feel like I’m tougher. I just have to do what I always do: stay persistent in my pressure, don’t get caught with anything wild, stay technical and keep that forward pressure and put him at a pace he’s not going to be able to keep, wear him down and get the finish.”
Should Gravely add to his winning streak this Friday, it could help make his case for stepping up to the next level in 2019. Until that move happens though, he’s just looking to take things one fight at a time.
“I think when you think about it like you’re looking for this goal, this goal, and that goal, but if you only looking at that goal you can miss a lot of steps headed towards that goal,” said Gravely. “I’m just looking to stay focused on one fight at a time
“As long as I’m focused on myself and doing the best I can in these fights and performing well, there’s no doubt that goal will come.”