Though he’s yet to have a fight in 2018, veteran Chidi Njokuani feels like it’s been a good year for him, mainly because of a decision he made in 2017.
Following a loss to Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 182 in August of 2017, Njokuani made the decision to move up in weight, was able to pick up a unanimous decision win over Hisaki Kato in December to get back on track.
“It’s always good to end a year off a win,” Njokuani told MMAWeekly.com. “That’s always nice and is good momentum for the next year.
“That loss (to Koreshkov) really wasn’t a bad thing, it was like a blessing in disguise because I jumped up a weight class (and got a win over Kato). Overall it wasn’t bad in that case.”
Njokuani notes the move up to middleweight had been a long time coming. And since making the move he feels like will be able to match up fine with the larger competition in the weight class.
“It’s not like I’m too small for the weight class,” said Njokuani. “I was too big for 170 pounds. I don’t feel like I’ve lost any speed or power. It feels pretty natural.
“We fight with four ounce gloves, so it doesn’t take much to knock somebody out. The power is always going to be there. When it comes to the grappling portion of it, I’m training with heavier people all the time, so the weight difference doesn’t change much to me. It’s all really the same to me.”
On Friday in Thackerville, Okla., Njokuani (18-5) will look to pick up his second straight win when he takes on John Salter (15-4) in a 185-pound main event of Bellator 210.
“I’ve just got to go out there and fight and be myself,” Njokuani said. “I feel I can get the win everywhere. I feel I can do anything I want; I just have to go out there and apply it.
“My plan is to keep it standing and keep it striking because I know what (Salter is) capable of doing on the ground, but as long as I go out there and do what I’m capable of, whatever happens, happens. If I could take it to the ground and get a W there, I’m cool with that too.”
While he could have found a new lease on his career in a new weight class, Njokuani isn’t looking beyond what he has in front of him as he gets ready to go into 2019.
“I don’t set anything ahead,” said Njokuani. “I just kind of chill and whatever happens, happens.
“Whoever they put in front of me I’ll fight. I’m not really sitting around trying to plan anything ahead of time. If I’m able to get a title shot and all that stuff, I’ll take it, but I don’t really think about it.”