by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s now or never for mixed martial arts heavyweight Justin Eilers. Once the young, hungry up-and-coming contender for the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title, he is now a veteran fighter, looking to find his way back to the top after some disappointing performances in major fights.
Step one in returning to the big time for Eilers is his fight on Oct. 13 in Dallas for the upstart HDNet Fights promotion, run by the at times controversial, always entertaining billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.
“This is a pretty big opportunity,” exclaimed Eilers. “Everybody knows who Mark Cuban is. I think with him being involved, it has a huge chance to really blow up and become really big.
“I’m hoping to go out there and be able to put on some good fights for them and just do my part in helping them grow.”
In order for Eilers to receive an opportunity to grow with the promotion, he has to get past Matt Thompson, a local Texan whose name some may recognize from when he filled in for the International Fight League’s Los Angeles Anacondas this past February.
“I think he’s an unorthodox fighter, a taller guy, so that poses problems in itself, but as I always say, a fight’s a fight,” commented Eilers. “The guy can either come at me and try to take me down or he’s going to come at me and try to knock my head off, so I just get in good shape and be ready to go.”
Knowing anything in-depth about your opponent is often times a luxury in MMA that few fighters get. Accordingly, Eilers doesn’t waste time in pre-fight preparations coming up with an extensive game plan for his opponents.
“I like to feel people out a little bit, when I don’t know a lot about them, for the first couple minutes of a fight and see how he’s going to try to fight me,” he explained. “Then pretty much form a game plan from then on.”
Having recently relocated to Nevada to work with fellow former Miletich Fighting Systems teammate Tony Fryklund at Fight Club Las Vegas (FCLV), Eilers feels a renewed sense of vigor thanks to his new surroundings.
“I was out in Iowa and I was just doing MMA at a boxing gym and that wasn’t enough,” he said. “I decided that I need to get out to Vegas because for one, there are better gyms out here, and two, this is the fight capital of the world. I want to be in the mix.
“There’s a wealth of knowledge there (at FCLV) that I can learn from. Tony’s a great teacher and I know he’s going to surround himself with people who know a lot of stuff, so I figure it’s a good spot for me to just learn for a while and get better.”
Should all go well at this weekend’s HDNet Fights, Eilers will look to build off his new, stable foundation and get back into the heavyweight spotlight in the coming year.
“I’m well into my career now,” he admitted. “I’m 20-something fights in, have been in some big fights and look at fighting now as a job. It’s how I make a living. So I’m always in the gym, training, trying to learn and get better, stay healthy and fight often and take opportunities when they come.
“I think the move to Vegas is going to help me out a lot. I’m going to learn a lot being here and … be able to take those bigger fights and get wins. That’s the goal.”
Step one towards achieving that goal for Eilers comes this Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas at the debut show of Mark Cuban’s HDNet Fights.
“I’d definitely like to get a shout-out to Ed and Sinister Clothing, and a big shout-out to the Fight Club and all the guys I’m training with out there,” closed out Eilers. “To the fans, I love you, thanks for supporting me and I’ll try to knock people out for you.”