Tyrell Fortune

Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/ Bellator MMA

Tyrell Fortune on Linton Vassell and title implications at Bellator 271

Tyrell Fortune tests skills with Linton Vassell on Friday, November 12th at Bellator 271. This heavyweight co-feature emanates from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and broadcasts on Showtime.

I spoke with Fortune ahead of this collision between ranked contenders. The excerpts from our chat are below.

Tyrell Fortune

Getting an Arizona Combat Sports tattoo and how it informed the gym logo

“I had the idea for a while. Just didn’t know how I was going to do it. I just wanted to kind of still use the name and the Phoenix that we had originally used. But I just wanted to revamp it a little bit. Make it a little new. I think after my fight is when I knew it was going to be the next tattoo. After my last fight with Matt Mitrione. And it turned out really nice. I really like it. My coach likes it too. And we’re going to use it as the new logo of the gym.”

Benefits to his standup game from working with elite Dutch kickboxers like Alistair Overeem in this recent camp

“For me, it’s more or less just being able to put myself in situations that I have to adapt and learn from. You know, I felt like for a little bit I wasn’t getting tested in the practice room enough to where I could actually learn from it. Learn what I need to change and execute more. So now having these bigger bodies in here that will have more experience. Just good experience is definitely helping me sharpen my tools.”

The thought on the last victory over Matt Mitrione

“I was very happy with it. I have a personal relationship with Matt. We had worked together before a lot. I just kind of knew if I can get him down in those wrestling positions with me on top, then I should be able to secure the win. Finish the fight out from there. And because I was able to land it so early, there was no sweat. No way for him to slip or get out. So he was just stuck tight in a bad position. But no, definitely I think these last few fights have definitely shown my ability to be able to take anybody down and control the fight.”

If he saw Linton Vassell as somebody that he’d be getting in the cage with eventually

“We knew this fight was gonna come one day. We have the same manager. Like I said with Matt, I had worked with Linton before prior to this fight in some of his camps. So we knew this fight was gonna come. We kind of tried to avoid it as much as we could until it became a title contention affair. Like you said, we’re both at five and six. It’s now like at that time where ‘Okay, now we have to fight each other to see who’s gonna get that shot’.”

Bellator 271

The friendly level of rapport between Fortune and Vassell from past training together

“Yeah, 100%. We have each other’s personal phone numbers. Can call and text each other. We call and talk to each other all the time. So it was never like any animosity or any bad blood or anything like that. It was just straight up. We had seen each other earlier. Gave each other a hug, wished each other the best, kind of caught up with each other. Seeing how we’re doing with just life and training. And then we kept it going. So there’s never nothing bad about it. We both already know this is just business. I definitely would work with him later on in the future. I hope he feels the same way about that too.”

Tyrell Fortune continued, “This is business. This is nothing personal. I got nothing against anybody unless they make it personal with me. The only person that decided to do that was Jack May. Everybody saw how that turned out.”

The stylistic proclivities of Linton Vassell and thoughts on his shift from 205 pounds to heavyweight

“Just from what I’ve seen he is jab heavy, low kick heavy, he likes his counter hook. He’s definitely one of those guys who knows that if he can get on top, it’s a lot better at the heavyweight division to be on top than on the bottom. Those are his strengths. He’s been around for a while. He has 30 plus fights under his belt.”

The Vitaly Minakov fight falling out and if that is a fight he sees transpiring eventually

“That was just kind of business that didn’t come to fruition. I could care less really about trying to fight Minakov or anybody for a name. I’m looking out for myself and trying to become a champion. With Minakov not even being ranked at all in the top 10, it was really just me wanting to get a good fight with a good name. Because he had been a former champion. He had a two-year layoff. So honestly, I kind of looked at it as just me snatching his name real quick. Besides that, no. It didn’t mean anything to me.”

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The renewed level of clarity at the top of the heavyweight division now

“Not so clear yet. With Fedor beating Tim (Johnson) and now Fedor just hopped up to three. We got Cheick Kongo up there still. Tim is also another one of these still up there too. So I’m kind of curious to see what happens with these old guys in the way a little bit. I don’t think they have many fights left on their contracts. They’re old. How many fights could these guys really have under their belts anyway? And then with (Ryan) Bader coming back in, now we get to see where this belt is going to go. The top of the bracket is going to be more active now.”

Tyrell Fortune continued, “I hope that Bader and (Valentin) Moldavsky or Bader and whoever they choose to fight. Because I can see actually Bader ending up fighting Fedor for the title. Because of who Fedor is, his name, and what kind of crowd that brings. It just makes sense. I think Moldavsky will probably take a step back and let his coach get that shot before he hangs them up. If that’s the case, and he just gives his shot up, I would love to fight Moldavsky. Just to prove that I’m that guy that should be next. Or wait and see what happens and fight for the belt. In the next few months, we should really know what’s going on with this division.”

Wanting to eventually avenge that loss to Timothy Johnson but being very title focused now

“I mean if they offered Tim, I’m definitely taking it. As a fighter, I don’t have any control over who I fight. I called him out. I asked for it. They know I want to fight him. If they present it and give me the opportunity, I’m definitely taking it. So right now, it’s just advancing my career. Moving forward, focused on me. Like I said, I ain’t got no real animosity against anybody. Of course, I’ve definitely wanted to get that match, that fight back. I’m looking for the benefit of me. Definitely becoming the champion is gonna benefit me the most.”

Parting thoughts for Tyrell Fortune

“Nothing, man. Just ready to get this fight going. Thank you for having me on the show. I appreciate your time.”

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