Brian Moore: “I genuinely don’t think there’s a better featherweight striker in Bellator than me”

On April 7th, Bellator take a trip to Europe as they hold their 196th event in Budapest, Hungary. After headlining Bellator 187 in Dublin, a name synonymous with the regional Irish circuit, Brian ‘The Pikeman’ Moore (10-6) returns to battle against Italy’s Giorgio Belsanti (7-6).

After a mixed bag of results in 2017, Brian has been back at the drawing board. With his first outing of 2018 just one week away, the camp that Moore has endured has made him a more polished fighter than previously showcased.

“We’ve had a lot of changes in this camp,” Brian stated. “I’m really happy with how things have been developing. My whole game has become far better. I became obsessed with striking for a long time, but I feel my grappling has never been at a better stage. I set a lot of goals at the start of this camp and I’ve hit them all. I’ve only one goal left and that’s to take out this Italian.

“I’m a fan of watching tape on a guy. I’ve done my research. Fighting is a strategic game and I want to be smart with my approach. I’ve sussed out what he does. He’s pretty one-dimensional in my opinion, but he’s tough and gritty. He fancies himself a striker, but if this was a kickboxing match I’d have him knocked out in the first round. I feel like a Swiss army knife and he’s a shitty spoon. I’m really excited to get back in there.”

In Brian’s most recent outing, the SBG representative battled in the main event of Bellator 187 against AJ McKee. In a bout that was seemingly heading in favour of the former, one error in the opening minute of final stanza brought a halt to proceedings in favour of the latter.

Despite the outcome, Brian has not allowed it to affect his mentality and hasn’t excused the error. For Moore, it’s a fight that one day he feels will happen again.

“I think I performed well despite the loss,” the featherweight told. “I feel I was getting better and better as time went on in that fight. I thought I’d won the first round, but on the night I wasn’t sure. After the first two rounds, John [Kavanagh] told me in the corner I was two rounds up and I said I thought I had only won one. He corrected me, I agreed, then I went out and made a silly mistake and AJ capitalised very well.

“If you actually go back and watch the fight, a lot of people said I was unlucky. I wasn’t unlucky. My footwork was off and I slipped. AJ’s skills made the most of it. There was no luck involved, so I’m looking to go in and make up for that one and hopefully get a rematch with AJ. Bellator love rematches, so I don’t see it being off the cards. I think we’ll cross paths again.”

As aforementioned, Brian headlining the 3Arenna in Dublin at Bellator 187 following the pullout of esteemed teammate James Gallagher was a milestone of progress in his career. Having been a staple of the domestic circuit on shows such as Battlezone, Clan Wars and even Cage Warriors, arriving in the main event of a major MMA promotion is something Brian beholds.

“It was an incredible feeling main eventing,” the sixteen-fight veteran beamed. “Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to represent my country in sports and I finally got the chance to do it. I feel like I left a good impression with Bellator and with the fans, so there’s lots to take from that fight.

“Being in the position, I felt like I had a lot of responsibility to make it a great fight and it kind of pissed me off a bit. I don’t think I fought as smart as I could’ve. I tried to make it more exciting, but you live and learn.”

A characteristic of Brian’s throughout his career that has allowed him to get better is his self-criticism. While many fighters can be their own worst critic, as Moore has grown, he has allowed himself more time to focus on improvements rather than running himself down.

“I’ve come to be a little bit easier on myself after fights,” Brian explained. “There’s no fight I’ve ever came out of thinking it was a perfect performance because there is no such thing as that. I’m always trying to get better everywhere. This camp in particular I feel like I’ve filled a lot of holes and gaps in my game. I genuinely don’t think there’s a better featherweight striker in Bellator than me. Point one out to me.

“If you look at my two losses in Bellator they’re in grappling exchanges. I’ve put in a crazy amount of hours since that loss and my ground game has just exploded. I set goals to improve and aim for there to be nobody in the gym I couldn’t take down and that’s what I’m doing right now in a gym full of killers and that’s what I’m excited to show next week.”

Bellator 196 should have been the second card Brian and teammate James Gallagher shared together. After a bad run of luck, James was pulled from the card with another consecutive injury. Having been a main sparring partner of Gallagher’s in the gym, Moore is confident that, when healthy, Gallagher will be back and even better.

“I’m really dissappointed James had to pull out,” Moore divulged. “He’s a good friend of mine and I have a lot of time for him, as I do all my teammates. The fact that he did it hitting my big head doesn’t help matters. He has one of the best mindsets I’ve ever seen in this sport. He’s twenty-one. A lot of kids his age would’ve backed up against Chinzo Machida, but he ran at a karate guy and spooked him, took him down and choked him. He looked great in training, so he’s only going to bounce back stronger.”

Even with the pullout of Gallagher, Brian will not be the only SBG combatant to lock horns in Hungary as fellow teammate Ion Pascu will tie up with the unbeaten prospect Ed Ruth. As far as ‘The Pikeman’ sees it, Pascu’s experience will be too much for Ruth to handle.

“I think Ed is good,” Brian opined. “However I don’t think he’s fought anyone of any true level the way Ion has. Ion has fought the who’s who and is a phenomenal grappler in his own right. He’s a tank and hits super hard too. He’s a nightmare for anybody in that weight class. Knowing what I’ve seen of Ion in the gym and his previous fights I think he may prove too much for Ed Ruth. Ed’s a great athlete and a good fighter, but Ion is far too seasoned for him.”

Such as life is for an up-and-coming fighter, training full-time isn’t always an option. With many holding down nine-to-five jobs and training most evenings, finding time and sometimes energy to fit in additional sessions around work commitments is a struggle.

In recent times, this has affected the growth and cage time of 145-pounder. After a string of unfortunate results and lack of training camps through setting up a business, it seemed unlikely that the Irish veteran would ever find time to return to the cage.

“I always wanted to come back,” Moore confessed. “There were just so many days where it didn’t seem feasible. I was doing these long sixteen to eighteen hour days trying to build a business and get it off the ground. When it did get off the ground, it went beyond my expectations. It ballooned, really. It was those days that, as good as things were, I thought I’d never get back to MMA.

“When I did, I had to make everything right. It feels phenomenal to be back. Bantamweight was a terrible choice and I’m never going back to it. I feel terrific at featherweight and I’m happy to be back in it. I’m always trying to adjust my routine to get the most in. It can be tough trying to find the balance, but it’s a doable.”

With goals intact and a routine in check, Brian plans to make the most of 2018 – starting with next Saturday’s Hungarian showdown. While having goals to attain championships, Moore is making a point of taking it step by step.

“I want to reach Bellator gold,” Brian informed. “I’m not looking at anyone as a stepping stone.”

“I overlooked Rich Edgeworth because of his record and as a result I didn’t put on a great performance. That’s why I don’t want to look past this guy. I give him all them respect in the world but I just think he’s one-dimensional.”

“I do have plans to get after the Bellator title. I’ve made massive changes in my life to be able to train more to make these goals happen. Yes, I want to be world champion. I wouldn’t be driving to four hour to Dublin four days a week if I wasn’t hungry. I do plan to fight in the USA this year as I have just got my Visa for the States, so I’m planning to be busy this year. I have a task to tackle next week, so I’m going to take care of business and look forward to the next task that will follow.”

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