For veteran lightweight Saad Awad, not only has 2018 been a positive year for him inside the cage with two wins in two bouts, but outside the cage things have been going well for him too.
For Awad, the success of 2018 has been partly what’s going on in his personal life, as well as in his fight preparation.
“(2018 is) so far so good,” Awad told MMAWeekly.com. “I got involved with a new camp. My strength and conditioning changed. I had a baby. I’m going in a positive direction, and I’m on a good winning streak.”
The biggest addition to Awad’s training regimen has been the fact that he’s focusing more on getting his physical abilities to match his technical skillset.
“I’ve always cross-trained here and there, and I wouldn’t say my conditioning was a big hole in my game, because I was always training hard, but there was something missing there,” said Awad. “I felt I needed to push longer and harder. Especially if I’m fighting five round fights I want to be able to hold my power.
“I think overall my experience is finally settling in. I’m pretty seasoned. I’ve always been pretty confident, but I’ve gotten more confident, and the experience has definitely kicked in and it’s starting to pay off for me.”
Awad (23-9) will look to remain undefeated in 2018 when he faces Benson Henderson (25-8) in the lightweight co-main event of Bellator 208 on Saturday in Long Island, New York.
“I think this is the biggest fight Bellator could have given me in the lightweight division,” Awad said. “I’m pretty well-rounded and I believe Ben is in the same boat.
“On paper, he’s accomplished a lot more than I have, but I believe now is the perfect time for me to fight him. I’m becoming the fighter I wanted to be, and he’s the fighter he wants to be, so it’s going to make for an explosive match-up.”
Should Awad pick up his fifth straight victory on October 13, a run towards the Bellator lightweight title could be on the horizon in the coming year.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody out there I can beat aside from Patricky (Freire),” said Awad. “He’s beaten everybody, and I have a loss to him, so I think right up next it could be him. I’d like to fight him in a title eliminator so we’re not waiting around for a title fight, and then go from there.
“2019 is definitely the year (to get a title shot). I don’t see it any other way.”