Jimmy Wallhead has been waiting to make his Bellator debut for over a year. He has had all manner of problems leading up to this moment: fight changes, visas, volcanic eruptions, and so on, but the time has now come for him to make his mark against a fighter he may have crossed paths with had he made it into the Season 3 welterweight tournament, Ryan Thomas.
“There is a lot riding on this fight. It’s a real big thing now as there are more guys and the prizes are more lucrative. I know that my fight will be an eliminator for the next season, so I need to go out there and do my job.”
He knows that his first start in the promotion will be a tough one, in an assessment that is unusually frank for a fighter, he paid Thomas a lot of props.
“This isn’t an easy fight for either of us, its not going to be a walkover that’s for sure,” he cautioned.
“I know that Thomas is an NCAA wrestler, he is fit, durable, a gamer, and he comes to fight people. He’s got a good triangle and a few nice other bits and bobs. He doesn’t mind being on his back and it will be hard for me to defend the takedown. He has heavy hands and likes to bang with them.”
He nothing if not honest, but it doesn’t mean that he thinks he is outclassed.
“I think we are evenly matched. He is a lot more experienced in relation to the caliber of guys he has been fighting recently, whereas I have struggled to stay active for various reasons beyond my control. But I think that we will match each other well at all ranges of the fight and it should be a good one to watch.”
For the most part, fighters tend to have certain things they know they do well, areas of their games that they feel are slightly ahead of their opponent be it striking, jiu-jitsu or wrestling. Some play it coy saying they will do this, that and the other – talking up or down the potential factors in a bout. Wallhead by contrast has no pre-conceived ideas.
“We are all fit and strong, as long as we all cut properly, it’s just a case of it being another battlefield. We all have the weapons to win, so it’s just a case now of making sure that my head is in the right place and I can do what I am capable of.”
Without trying to labor the point, he truly feels this will be a complete mixed martial arts encounter.
“We are both going to come in and try to impose our will. We will start toe to toe and whoever gets caught will get put on their arse. Then all the other elements of the game come into it and we will both push in the areas where we feel the other is weaker. I think there will be a bit of everything from both of us.”
Considering the mindset of Wallhead coming into this fight, it’s a refreshing change from some of the issues that he openly admits have troubled him before. His physicality has never been in question, but he admits that he has sometimes failed to get his head into the game, even early into a camp.
No such issues this time, he has a new outlook.
“At the end of the day, if I lose this fight, I will have some time out from the sport. I am not worrying about a title shot. I feel like I have grown. If I win, the next part of my life will be mapped out. So being stressed isn’t going to help anything. I just want to want to get a good warm-up in and then go out and fight.”
There have been a lot of changes to Wallhead recently that have given him this confidence. His weight was ahead of schedule, he has a new grappling coach in the highly regarded Victor Estima, who he feels has given him some very new, very relevant tools, and his training has been running smoothly.
“Ryan Thomas is not one-dimensional; he’s an exciting fighter. I respect him as fighter and I know that I won’t walk through him, but as soon as that bell rings I am going to try and cave his head in.”