Bellator MMA is taking a deliberate approach to the development of Tyrell Fortune, but that hasn’t stopped the heavyweight prospect from contemplating how he would fare against the division’s best.
Whether that’s Fedor Emelianenko, Cheick Kongo, Bobby Lashley, Matt Mitrione or someone else on the California-based promotion’s roster, Fortune is already confident that he’ll have one significant advantage -- despite a lack of high-level MMA experience.
“I look at that every time I watch them fight. I feel like anybody’s whose in the game now, who utilizes the ground game, they’re gonna [have a tough time with me]. Because it’s gonna be hard to take me down or do anything to me if you do take me down,” Fortune told Sherdog.com. “So I think anybody that utilizes the ground game is gonna have a problem. That’s pretty much all I can say for now until I get my striking to match with my wrestling.”
The organization’s heavyweight championship is still vacant, but Bellator President Scott Coker has promised a tournament to crown a new titlist at some point in 2017. Fortune, a former Division II national champion at Grand Canyon University and at one point the No. 3 ranked 275-pounder for USA Wrestling, could eventually be in the conversation as a title contender. But he wouldn’t necessarily jump at a spot in the bracket if it was offered.
“It would depend on where I’m at. I would sit down with my coaches and see what they think. It would be a team discussion. For me, I’m excited to take any fight,” he said. “Obviously I feel like my wrestling background gives me a lot of maneuvering room to take on different opponents. You have to understand that there’s a process. You have to be willing to go through the process and you can’t rush anything. Just depending on where I’m at would determine my answer.”
The 26-year-old Arizona Combat Sports product is 2-0 thus far in his burgeoning career, with both of his triumphs coming via technical knockout. He will return to action at Bellator 178 on April 21 when he faces Branko Busick in a featured preliminary contest. Busick fits the profile of Fortune’s opponents thus far, as he will be making his professional debut at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in approximately one week’s time. While Fortune wouldn’t mind a step up in competition, he can also appreciate the way Bellator is handling his career.
“It’s a process. You have to take this process and trust the organization that they’re putting you through the right process,” he said. “I think that’s what I’m doing. I trust Bellator to help me improve my career as it continues to progress. But I think Bellator is obviously giving me the right opponents that I need at the right time.”
Fortune’s plan for the remainder of 2017 is simple. If all goes as planned, everything else will take care of itself.
“As many opponents as I can get this year, just knock them all out,” Fortune said. “Remain undefeated and continue improving. Just continue to sharpen my craft and get better.”