For a man who is 7-0 with six finishes, Bellator MMA welterweight prospect Logan Storley comes off as rather unimpressed with himself. Not that he lacks in confidence -- the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Minnesota knows his strengths and is clearly accustomed to winning -- but in the sense of being critical of his own performances and reluctant to talk himself up.
For instance, Storley’s most recent fight, a unanimous decision over Matt Secor at Bellator 186 in November, was his first professional bout to go the distance. In fact, Secor was the first Storley opponent to last more than the seven minutes of a regulation NCAA wrestling match. Despite having taken down Secor in every round, applied his ground-and-pound and shrugged off the submission and sweep attempts from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Storley seems to regard the dominant win almost as a setback, talking about it in the same tones another fighter might use when discussing a loss.
“I just want to get back on track, get back to finishing people,” Storley told Sherdog.com.
However, he is willing to concede that going the distance with the more seasoned Secor offered some learning opportunities.
“I got the chance to stick with a game plan and listen to my coaches,” Storley said. “I also got to spend a lot of time on the ground with someone who’s a [jiu-jitsu] black belt who has given a lot of people problems, and I was never in any trouble.”
Storley is scheduled to face Joaquin Buckley at Bellator 197 this Friday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. Buckley appears to be the most capable wrestler Storley has faced to date, as he has gone 3-1 in Bellator by utilizing a combination of sprawl-and-brawl tactics and powerful takedowns of his own. Nonetheless, Storley does not anticipate much difficulty taking the fight wherever he wants.
“He knows now to wrestle, but there’s a difference of years,” he said. “He hasn’t put in the years I have. I started wrestling when I was 5. I wrestled all through college, and even now when I’m not in fight camp, I’m back at the University of Minnesota all the time, wrestling, working with the team. He may defend some of my takedowns, but I’ll get him down if I want to.”
While Storley is confident in his ability to outwrestle his upcoming opponent, he acknowledges that as he continues to rise through the welterweight ranks, he will eventually encounter fighters he cannot ground at will. He looks forward to the opportunity to showcase his well-roundedness as a fighter. One such potential opponent has come onto the radar fairly recently, as similarly hot Bellator prospect Ed Ruth has announced his intention to drop from middleweight to welterweight. Ruth appears to be making good on that statement, as he weighed in at only 174 pounds for his Bellator 196 fight with Ion Pascu on April 6. Storley has some near-miss history with Ruth, a three-time national champion wrestler at Penn State University: In 2014, as Ruth capped off his illustrious career by winning his third title at 184 pounds, Storley was a sophomore, coming in third at 173 pounds. Penn State won the team title that year, narrowly edging out Minnesota.
“Yeah, they do that quite a bit,” Storley said, almost with a chuckle.
Storley says his ears perked up as soon as he heard Ruth’s announcement. He would welcome the chance to fight him at some point, not out of any held-over alma mater rivalry, but simply for the challenge.
“I know him a little. He’s a good guy. I actually worked with him some after [his] college [career], when he wrestled for Sunkist Kids,” Storley said, referring to the Arizona-based wrestling club that functions as a frequent springboard for former college wrestlers looking to go to the Olympics. “Great wrestler, obviously, good fighter and a good guy.”
Storley also touched on the mayhem involving former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor prior to UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York. He was not a fan of the Irishman’s dolly-throwing, bystander-injury behavior.
“It’s like he is in this cycle where he needs to keep one-upping himself,” Storley said. “He decides people aren’t paying attention to him and he just goes off for no reason, but he has to one-up what he did before. Then, next thing you know …”
Storley is clearly pointing to the fact that McGregor’s misbehavior has escalated from throwing small objects and jumping into cages in his street clothes to allegedly throwing large objects with serious effects. This kind of behavior is anathema to Storley, who self-describes as being “from a small town in South Dakota, a real blue-collar town, where that kind of behavior just wouldn’t fly.”
Nonetheless, Storley understands he will eventually be expected to do more talking, and that generating interest in his fights will be more a part of the job as he progresses from prospect to contender. As that time approaches, Storley might take some cues from another South Dakotan turned University of Minnesota wrestler turned cage fighter: Brock Lesnar. He was an early influence on Storley’s career, encouraging him to pursue MMA, recommending him to promoters and working out with him at Team Death Clutch. Whether Lesnar is working for World Wrestling Entertainment or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he can cut a promo like few others, yet outside of work, he remains an introverted family man who greatly prefers the quiet and the outdoors to the spotlight. That separation of person and persona seems to resonate with Storley.
“[Lesnar] does the publicity stuff, but he never lets it change who he is,” he said. “When I worked out with him and his team back in the day, you just can’t believe how down to earth he is.”
When asked about his upcoming bout with Buckley and whether his ideal outcome would be a one-minute smashing or a protracted display of dominance with a finish, Storley sounds like a man more interested in the process than the result.
“The most successful outcome for me would be a fight where I stick to the game plan my coaches give me. I have what I think are the best coaches in the world,” said Storley, who trains at Hard Knocks 365 under head coach Henri Hooft, alongside notable fighters like former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and former UFC welterweight king Robbie Lawler, who will be in Storley’s corner at Bellator 197. “We train to put me in situations where I’m in a position to finish the fight. If I listen to my coaches and follow the game plan, the finish will come.”