Austin Vanderford: Different Sport, Same Focus

May 29, 2020

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For Bellator MMA middleweight prospect Austin Vanderford, his primary goal is to continue his ascension in mixed martial arts. However, with the promotion on pause as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the 30-year-old has kept himself busy competing for another organization: Submission Underground, where he will compete for a third time in four months on Sunday at SUG 14. Although competitive grappling is not his first love, the focus to be best at is the same.

“More than anything I’m trying to build my name up. I love competing against guys who have made a name for themselves,” Vanderford told Sherdog. “Whether that’s a current UFC fighter, or someone like Craig Jones. And I feel like I’m still growing [with] the EBI [Eddie Bravo Invitational] rules. My first match was against Jake [Shields] and I went into it thinking alright, we’ve got a five-minute roll and I know what the overtime rules are, but there’s some strategy that goes into everything. I want to test myself with the best guys in the world. [Rafael] Lovato Jr., Craig Jones, all those guys.”

Along with talking about his work with SUG, and his match against Gabriel Checco, Vanderford also talked about his progression in Bellator, where he hopes to take his fighting career next and if he envies UFC fighters—like his wife Paige VanZant—who are staying active and making money while many other promotions are sidelined.

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