Salford mixed martial artist Pietro Menga admits his fight at Bellator 158 could be the precursor for a newly introduced Flyweight division.
The British Flyweight prospect Menga (12-0) will make his return against Spencer Hewitt (12-10) after two years away from the cage, featuring on the Bellator 158: London undercard in July.
Bellator will make their British debuts on July 16 at the O2 Arena and Menga will be a key component of the Brit-heavy preliminary card.
Menga “2.0” was scheduled to face Eduardo Azevedo at ICE FC: 14 this weekend, but the Brazilian had to withdraw from the bout with a broken arm.
There is no new opponent for Menga, but the 28-year-old believes in hindsight, this pullout can only benefit his preparation for Hewitt on July 16.
Speaking on War of the Words Podcast, Menga said: “I’ve done a full camp, so there’s a lot positives to take out of it. I’ve done an eight week training camp in the build up to Azevedo and it’s unfortunate that he pulled out. But it’s one of those things, you’ve just got to take it on the chin. The last 12 months have been a tough 12 months but it’s a 12 months that has built a lot of character. We go on from here.
“To be honest, I think it’s going to, in hindsight, work out in my favour. I wasn’t looking at the Azevedo fight as a warm up fight, he’s got a better record and beat just as good guys as Spencer Hewitt. So in no way was that a warm up fight like I said last time. I would have gone in there, give it 100%, planned on finishing him, took maybe a week off and then built into the Bellator camp.
“Now I’ve got a real fire built up just because of the letdown of not getting a fight this weekend. It just kind of all roles into the next one.”
Top prospect Menga last fought at BAMMA: Fight Night in August, 2014, where he defeated Steve McCombe with a second round submission. During the fight, Menga injured his rotator cuff which he had to rehab for 12 weeks. Upon his return, after training in New Jersey with coach Mark Henry and UFC Featherweight Frankie Edgar, Menga ruptured his ACL, adding yet another roadblock to his MMA homecoming.
Now hungry to finally return to the cage, Menga acknowledged that for the well-travelled Hewitt, it is a ‘do or die fight’.
“This is a do or die fight for him. We got offered the fight and I spoke to my coach about it,” explained Menga. “I was like ‘what do you think of this?’ and he [said] ‘look this is his swansong’, he can beat you and leapfrog all the guys in the division and puts himself back on the world scene against the top guys, or this is his last fight and he’s on his way out.”
Having trained with Hewitt in the past, the MMA Academy fighter believes he has enough knowledge of his opponent to ‘pull the trigger’ in front of 20,000 at the O2 Arena.
“In my opinion a very dangerous opponent with the context. He’s coming into it with everything to gain and he’s really got to put it all on the line. It’s interesting because we’ve trained together a couple of times as well, he’s been up to Liverpool and we train together but it’s all good, it’s business. We did a bit of sparring when he had a Cage Warriors fight. I know him, I know him well so I don’t really have to watch any footage on him.
“I will be pulling the trigger when we get in there on fight night.”
With Bellator 158 expected to be the UK’s biggest MMA card in 2016, Menga understands the potential implications his bout holds for a future with the promotion. He even went on to admit that a win could catapult him to the front of a brand new Flyweight division.
“There’s already talk of Bellator introducing a Flyweight division and a potential FLyweight title fight. So, my name is on that list for that vacant title. One fight deal, we’ve already spoken, but there’s already talk of a potential multi-fight deal.”
You can listen to the full interview with Pietro Menga on the latest edition of the War of the Words Podcast.