Leandro Higo and Austin Vanderford at Bellator 259 Media Day
Bellator 259 goes Friday, May 21st and is headlined by Cyborg vs Smith II. The latest Bellator MMA event broadcasts on Showtime and emanates from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Below are excerpts from my interactions with Leandro Higo and Austin Vanderford ahead of their respective contests on this card.
Higo clashes with a familiar foe in Darrion Caldwell as the two men will have their bantamweight rematch a few years later.
Vanderford takes on Fabian Edwards in a battle of ranked middleweights that will jettison the winner to a close proximity poin of a shot at 185 lb gold.
Leandro Higo and Austin Vanderford
Heading into a very high-stakes fight in the bantamweight division that also happens to be a rematch. The first fight being a few years back now.
I’m kind of wondering the biggest differences between the Leandro Higo that fought Darrion Caldwell the first time versus where he’s at now?
“I’m a totally different Leandro Higo. Leandro alter-ego, you know. Three years ago, I was a completely different fighter, a completely different person. And now, I am a more complete fighter. Not only inside the cage but outside the cage, physically and mentally. And as a person, I will display that in this next fight.”
I’m just noticing the hair dyed a little bit there.
You going for a bit of a different vibe for this fight here? Tapping into a different kind of energy for fight week?
“I don’t really think. I kinda see myself as a stylish guy. I’ve joked around too, I thought it’d be cool to get out there and make the hair red for the fight. If you know what I mean. Go slice him up a little bit, get some red in the hair. So I thought that’d be a cool look.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.