When Bellator announced the bracket for its upcoming Welterweight World Grand Prix, the competitors included current champion Rory MacDonald as well as a mix of previous titleholders, current contenders, and undefeated fighters.
Entering the eight-man tournament with perfect records are Michael Page (13-0), Neiman Gracie (8-0), and Ed Ruth (6-0), plus Yaroslav Amosov (20-0) fights Lorenz Larkin in an alternate bout.
Not on that list? Four-time NCAA All-American wrestler Logan Storley, who also happens to own a spotless pro record.
Storley (8-0) competes this Friday in the co-main event of Bellator 204 against veteran A.J. Matthews (9-7) at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.. Given the success that the 25-year-old has had so far in MMA, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him possibly take the spot of the similarly experienced Gracie or Ruth, or the lesser known Amosov.
For now he’s on the outside looking in and that suits him just fine.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of guys that are looking for that spot,” Storley told MMA Fighting. “I don’t really know, it doesn’t really matter to me. The biggest thing to me is just going out there and performing, putting on a show regardless of whether it’s for an alternate spot or not. I’m gonna go out there and perform at the highest level I’m capable of, so whether it’s a spot for an alternate, I don’t really know.
“I don’t really care either, I’m gonna get where I want to be in the next coming fights anyway, so I guess this is the first step along the line and I’ve gotta take care this one first.”
Storley will have plenty of support in the building when he fights Matthews in Friday’s co-main event, given his South Dakota roots. The future Minnesota Golden Gopher star grew up in Webster, just two hours south of Sioux Falls and he’s looking forward to representing alongside (and against) several other local talents, including Matthews, UFC vet David Michaud, and fellow Legacy Fighting Alliance alums Jordan Larson and Bryce Logan.
While competing at Minnesota, Storley actually competed against Ruth at the 2012 Big Ten Championships during his freshman year. Ruth was in the midst of his own storied career at Penn State, and he was the better man that day, but the two have kept in touch since and Storley would like to get another crack at his friendly rival.
“Me and Ed both fought on the Penn State card and we get along, we trained in Arizona a little bit,” said Storley. “There’s definitely that competitive spirit. Obviously, if we fought you want to get that win back from freshman year of college, but to me it’s exciting to watch him in there and I’m excited to see what he can do against these guys with his wrestling and his standup. And I’m excited for people to understand the new wave of these wrestlers coming into the welterweight division.”
Whether it’s fighting Ruth, staying on the short list for the Grand Prix should it need any other alternates, or achieving his goal of becoming a world champion in MMA by 27, Storley knows that it all begins with earning a convincing win over Matthews.
Storley was a knockout machine before winning his last two fights by unanimous decision, and while he isn’t guaranteeing that he can get back to those finishing ways against Matthews, the plan is still to go in and dominate.
“These guys are tough. They’re some of the best guys in the world,” said Storley. “They’re not just going to roll over and say, ‘Okay, yup. I’m done. I’m finished’ in a minute. It doesn’t happen like that. These are the best guys in the world, so it takes a long time in these fights to really grind a guy down and get him exhausted and to get him to the point where they’re ready to be done, they’re ready to quit, and they’ve been beat up enough.
“So that’s always the plan is to go out there and just inflict your will on these guys and slowly watch them crumble little by little.”