After going undefeated in his first two years as a pro, bantamweight up and comer Raufeon Stots has split his two bouts in 2017, picking up a win and a loss.
Stots was able to defeat former UFC veteran Rob Emerson at Victory FC 56 to start off his year in April, but was unable to keep his momentum going as he suffered a TKO loss to Merab Dvalishvili in June at Ring of Combat 59.
“I feel like I did pretty good against Rob,” Stots told MMAWeekly.com. “I could have pushed a little bit more. But that will come as I grow as a fighter is turning on my kill switch. That’s something I’ve been working on.
“My last fight was obviously down. I got knocked out for the first time in my career. What I learned from that is when the bell rings and the fight starts I’ve got to be ready and turn it on.”
“It’s been a good year for me learning-wise,” said Stots. “I learned I can compete against the best, but I’ve got to be ready for it. I’ve got to train for it and be ready to compete at the highest level when I step in the cage and the bell sounds.”
On Saturday in Omaha, Neb., Stots (8-1) will look to rebound when he defends his title against Arnold Berdon (6-1) in the 135-pound championship main event of Victory FC 59.
“This fight will be good for me too because this is the first time I’m coming off a loss, so it will be good for me to find myself as a fighter, to find myself as somebody who perseveres and who is still here to be the best in the world,” Stots said.
“(Berdon is) a hungry fighter and I’m hungry fighter, and we’re going to go out there and there are going to be fireworks. We’ve got everything to lose and everything to gain, so I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
With a win on December 16, Stots could place himself in the discussion as one of the top prospects ready to move up to the next level in 2018.
“As far as technically and things I’ve learned this past year, I feel like if would have been in (the UFC) before I knew these things I would have done a disservice to myself,” said Stots. “I’m at a point where I’m taking it one fight at a time and my results speak for themselves.
“It’s a hard thing. You want to be in the UFC, you want to make the big bucks and be recognized as one of the best fighters in the world, but I’ve got to take it one fight at a time and be comfortable in the fact that I’m working towards being one of the best.”