Still, with success, Baker felt he needed more of an edge, so he moved down to welterweight and joined Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Things couldn’t be going more swimmingly.
“It was just the best decision for me and my career to go to a camp that offers world class competition and evolve into the next portion of my career,” said Baker. “It’s allowed me to settle in, be comfortable and take in the game plans, rather than just trying to only use my speed or athleticism.
“I understand angles more, where I can be comfortable more, and where I need react more. Also, the probability of certain moves; how much of a success you’ll have. And being able to really understand the type of fighter I am now and continue to build to.”
Baker’s changes have paid off, as he’s made it to the finals of this season’s welterweight tournament against Karl Amoussou at Bellator 72 on Friday night in Tampa, Fla. It’s the kind of match-up that Baker told MMAWeekly.com is truly finals worthy.
“It will be real explosive and there should be fireworks in the first round; I’m sure of it,” said Baker.
“Amoussou is a hard starter, and I’m kind of a grinding fighter. So he’s going to give me everything he has in the first round, and I’m going to do everything I can to nullify him and catch him when I can as the rounds go on. I’ll pick my shots and work my technique more, so he won’t want to be in the cage any more, and I think that’s what will lead to the finish.”
Having been unable to win a Bellator tournament in his previous attempts, defeating Amoussou is especially important to Baker.
“Being entered into the tournament twice before and making it to the finals the first time, it’s just a set goal (to win the tournament) that I’ve set in my heart and I really want to fulfill it,” said Baker. “I’ve sacrificed so much to get in this position again, and now that I’m here I really want to cap off this tournament with a win.
“If I don’t win, it’s going to be completely devastation in my spirit knowing that I can win and be a champion one day and end up having to settle back in and get back on track and try to go for the title once again after this. I feel like this is my time and I’m ready to make it happen.”
Baker knows that this fight could very well determine where his career goes from here on out, making it even more important than just the opportunity to fulfill his goal of becoming tournament champion.
“I’m about two months away from renegotiations with contracts, and with the name I’ve built for myself and how high my stocks are in the fight game, it’s a crucial part of my career,” Baker said. “I have to do everything I can to come out with the best victories I can to be able to take care of my family for this last half of my career.”
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