Josh Shockley: “I Want To Be In The UFC. If Bellator Would Release Me Tomorrow…That Would Be The Perfect Situation For Me.”
Rising star faces Keith Schneider at Bellator 70 on May 25; Has no desire to compete in Bellator tournament
By Tom Taylor
At Bellator 70, which goes down on May 25th, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Josh Shockley will look to add one more win to his impressive 9-1 record. Standing in his path will be Keith Schneider (6-6), a local fighter who will be seeking a big win in front of his home-state fans.
With the bout now less than two weeks away, Shockley took time out of his schedule to speak with Full Contact Fighter. So far, he says his preparation for the fight has been good— but not perfect.
“I feel like everything’s going good, but I’m walking around a little heavier than I’d like to be,” he said. “I’m not worried about making weight, but I’m just carrying some extra weight around and I don’t really like that.”
His weight-related concerns can be attributed to his fight with Schneider being held at welterweight (170 pounds). Normally, Shockley competes as a lightweight (155 pounds), and is therefore not used to being so heavy in the weeks leading up to a fight. Because of this, he says he’s eagerly anticipating a return to the 155 lb. division.
“I can’t wait to get back to 155,” he said. “I’m going to make the weight pretty easily, I think I’m going to transition [to welterweight] pretty well, but personally I don’t like it. At ’55 I had a huge size advantage and I liked having that.
“I’m training for this fight at 170, and it’s like I’m just training. I don’t have to worry about what I eat or anything and I don’t like that.”
In addition to the task of adapting to a new weight class, Shockley is faced with the challenge of fighting an opponent he doesn’t know much about. In Schneider, Shockley will face a man with little name value, and limited experience outside of the Louisiana MMA circuit.
“You know, to be honest, I really don’t even know who I’m fighting,” he said. “I had seen his name when I signed the contract and I watched like 30 seconds of one of his fights and that was that. But I don’t think he’s ready for me. I don’t know what to say about him because I don’t know much about him.”
To prepare for an opponent he’s completely unfamiliar with, Shockley has prepared like he would for any other fight.
“I kind of did the same thing I always do. My game plan is going to be to out-strike him, out-wrestle him, and beat him in every aspect of the game. I’m not too worried about what his game plan is. I’m worried about mine.”
While he is unsure of the weapons his opponent might possess, Shockley is confident in his own.
“I think he’ll really have to worry about my legs. I think my legs will give him problems.”
Should Shockley achieve victory over Schneider, he will make a case for himself to be entered into one of Bellator’s seasonal tournaments. The tournament, however, is something Shockley would like to steer clear of, if at all possible.
“I’d like to stay away from that tournament if Bellator will allow that, because at ’70 I don’t feel like I’m big enough to compete with the high-level 170 fighters of the world. Then at ’55, I fight once, make weight, and then I go back to 185 lbs almost overnight. So it would be like fight, wait just a week, and then cut weight again. I won’t be able to really train for a fight like I would like to.”
If he does end up competing in a tournament, and if his return to lightweight goes as planned, Shockley will be working his way towards a title fight with reigning champ, Michael Chandler. At this stage in his young career, however, a fight with an athlete of Chandler’s calibre is something Shockley is hoping to avoid. Instead, he would prefer to bring his career along gradually, demonstrating a realistic approach that is uncommon in competitive sports.
“You know, Mike Chandler is a guy I’d like to avoid to be honest. I think he’s top five in the world, maybe even top three in the world, but without the recognition. I respect that guy a lot. I would try to stay away from him, for now, if I could, and let my game develop a little bit.
“If I did take that fight,” Shockley continued, “I think I’d stack up well with him, but I’d like to let myself get a little more comfortable in the ring before I have to step into that fight. I have to be realistic about it. I can’t be one of those guys who is saying, ‘Oh I’ll walk through that guy’, because I don’t think I’d walk through Mike Chandler.”
As his career continues to develop though, Shockley does plan to seek out greater challenges. While he is gracious of the opportunities he has received as part of the Bellator roster, Shockley yearns to compete on the sport’s biggest stage, in the UFC.
“I’m really happy in Bellator right now, they’ve treated me great, and Bjorn [Rebney] has been a phenomenal guy. But when I got into this sport, my goal wasn’t to be a Bellator world champion; I want to be in the UFC. You know, you don’t play football your whole life to play in the Canadian Football League, you want to make it to the NFL.”
Were he not contractually bound to Bellator, Shockley believes the UFC would already be taking an interest in him.
“I honestly think with my record now, at my age, with the type of fights of I have, I think they would take me now. It’s just a matter of hopefully finishing out this Bellator contract and not getting losses on it, and keep my record clean”, he said.
“I’m happy right now where I’m at, but I’m not content. I want to be in the UFC. If Bellator would release me tomorrow and say, we’re gonna let you go, we’re not mad that you going, we’re just going to let you advance in your career— that would be the perfect situation for me.”
Until his Bellator contract unfolds, Shockley will continue to attempt to strengthen his resume so as to sweeten his appeal to the UFC. He says he will gun for the finish every time he enters the cage, starting on May 25.