April 12th, 2024

Canadian middleweight Aaron Jeffery hopes win in Belfast leads to title shot

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

Canadian middleweight Aaron Jeffery (left) absorbs a blow from American John Salter at Bellator 293 on March 31, 2023. Jeffery is closing in on a Bellator title shot. Standing in his way Friday is England's Fabian (The Assassin) Edwards, brother of UFC welterweight champion Leon (Rocky) Edwards, at the Bellator Champions Series in Belfast. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Bellator MMA-Lucas Noonan **MANDATORY CREDIT **

The first question Canadian middleweight Aaron Jeffery fielded at media day ahead of Friday’s Bellator Champions Series card in Belfast was about his trademark mullet.

Was he the only man in Ireland with one?

“I’ve probably seen two or three mullets maybe,” replied the 31-year-old from Tillsonburg, Ont.

Jeffery’s mullet is money, prompting Bellator to run a clip of his August 2022 finish of American Austin (The Gentleman) Vanderford with the headline “Fear the Mullet.”

A win Friday over England’s Fabian (The Assassin) Edwards and the man with the mullet will be talking about a title shot. While Jeffery has been around long enough to know title talk can be just that in the world of mixed martial arts, he says that’s what he’s been told.

“I mean they’ve announced it as the No. 1 contender fight so I don’t know what else I need to be told to believe that. I’m hoping so,” he said.

Edwards, the younger brother of UFC welterweight champion Leon (Rocky) Edwards, is coming off a September loss to Bellator champion Johnny (Pressure) Eblen. He sees Jeffery as a stepping-stone to another title challenge.

“It’s the get-back tour “¦ I strongly believe that I am one of the best middleweights and I’ve still got a lot to show,” said the 30-year-old from Birmingham.

The SSE Arena show is the first for Bellator since it was purchased by the Professional Fighters League in November – and the first of eight Bellator Champions Series events in 2024, each featuring title fights.

Fellow Canadian Jeremy (JBC) Kennedy takes on Brazil’s Patricio (Pitbull) Freire for the Bellator featherweight title in Belfast. American Corey (Overtime) Anderson meets Belfast’s Karl Moore for the vacant light-heavyweight title.

Jeffery (14-4-0) was hoping to fight Eblen but he was booked on last month’s PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions card in Saudi Arabia where he won a split decision over fellow American Impa Kasanganay.

“I didn’t get the title fight but I got the next best thing. He’s ranked No. 1. He just fought for the belt,” Jeffery said of Edwards. “I want to work my way to the title and this is the guy who’s going to get me there.”

Jeffery expects Edwards (12-3-0) to stay at range and look to make it a kickboxing match.

“That’s not really what I want to do. I think I’m going to rough him up. I’m going to make it gritty, I think I can out-grapple him, I think I can outpace him. I think I can break him in there.”

Not surprisingly, Edwards sees it differently.

“If he thinks that I can’t handle the grappling then he’s in for a big shock,” he said.

Edwards, meanwhile, expects Jeffery to be in his face,

“He’s a come-forward fighter. He likes to bring pressure and fight there in the clinch. I just feel that type of style suits me nice. I’m a clean type of striker that manages range. I just feel like I’ll be able to catch him.”

Jeffery is 3-1-0 in Bellator, rebounding from a loss by decision to American John Salter last March with a decision over American Dalton (Hercules) Rosta in August.

He divides his training time between Niagara Top Team in St. Catharines, Ont., and Kill Cliff Fight Club in Deerfield Beach, Fla. He likes to hold the early part of his training camp in Florida and then return home for the last two weeks to work with longtime Niagara Top team coaches.

But the Florida gym offers a lot.

“Tons of high-level guys. Bellator, PFL, UFC guys. And just lots of big guys too. Like I have a lot of solid training partners here but not a lot guys in my weight class.”

Back in Tillsonburg, homemade posters showing his face and the words “Home of the Mullet” have popped up recently.

“I’ve had two different people send me two different signs in Tillsonburg with my little mullet logo on (them). And I don’t know who it was,” Jeffery said. “But I’m happy to finally get some recognition back home.”

He now calls Thorold home but is proud of his Tillsonburg roots,

Jeffery arrived early in Belfast to acclimatize.

“It was cool to be here for St. Paddy’s Day,” he said. “I wish I could have drank a couple of beers.”

After the Rosta win, Jeffery said he planned to celebrate with “30 beers and 20 slices of pizza.”

“Maybe not quite 30 and 20,” he said with a laugh when asked if he made his goal. “But I had a few beers and a few slices of pizza, for sure.”

Jeffery knows his food. He has a medical sciences degree from Brock University as well as nutrition certification and runs a nutrition consulting business when not fighting.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024

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