While he didn’t have the kind of activity level he would have liked in 2016, lightweight Steve Kozola did remain undefeated for his career, picking up a win in his sole bout of the year in the process.
Against Matt Church at World Series of Fighting 30 in April, Kozola was able to pick up a first round TKO, and then would spend the remainder of his year looking to find a new promotion to call home.
“Unfortunately 2016 wasn’t as active in terms of my fight career,” Kozola told MMAWeekly.com. “But everything happens for a reason. I was in WSOF, and it wasn’t meant to be.
“After some deliberation with my family and team, we decided it was best for me to move on. I’m back with Bellator, where I belong, and I’m looking to progress forward.”
During his time off, Kozola continued his efforts to improve his game, and is anticipating being a much more effective fighter when he returns for his next fight.
“I’m always going to be a finisher,” he said. “I’m always going to be tough mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s just enhancing all those qualities. I can’t wait to see the results of that.”
Kozola (7-0) returns to action for the first time in a year when he takes on Jake Roberts (7-1) in a main card 155-pound bout at Bellator 175 on March 31 in Rosemont, Illinois.
“I think he’s got good stand-up, good wrestling, and good ground, and he comes from a good camp,” said Kozola of Roberts. “I think the difference here is that you’re going to see the difference between good versus great.
“This is my life. I am devoted to this more than anyone. You’re going to see someone who is good versus someone who is really devoted to this, and you’re going to see the gap.”
Kozola doesn’t believe his year off will affect his chances against Roberts.
“I keep it very simple: I step into the cage, I try to beat the person in the cage, and when (the referee) tells me to stop, I stop,” Kozola said. “If you don’t make it complicated, there’s no such thing as pressure or ring rust.”
While he does have a plan for 2017, Kozola is taking things as they come, and has his mind set solely on his bout with Roberts.
“I want to take care of business on March 31, then turn around and go to London on May 19 and then take care of business after that,” said Kozola. “There’s always a little bit of a plan, but before that, it’s all about March 31 and Jake, and that’s it.”