By Ray Hamill — Humboldt County’s most famous MMA pro landed safely in Hawaii on Tuesday ahead of this Friday’s big fight at Bellator’s Salute to the Troops.
Arcata’s Cass Bell will try to extend his professional record to 5-0 when he takes on Pierre Daguzan, a seasoned professional himself with a record of 5-3.
“He’s definitely a grinder,” Bell said of his opponent, a French native. “He’s got fast hands and he likes to go forward a lot.”
Bell has ended all four of his professional fights in the opening two rounds and is confident of a repeat performance on Friday.
And his strategy hasn’t changed for any one of his five fights.
“My strategy is kind of like, I always play it off. I’ll see what they want to do,” said the versatile bantamweight fighter, who was an outstanding wrestler at Arcata High. “Whether they’re pressing in, or they stay outside and make me go after them. And then I just capitalize on it.
“Whatever they want to do I’m comfortable with.”
Preparations have been going smoothly, and Bell says he is exactly where he is supposed to be in terms of weight loss.
And he says he is looking forward to fighting for the troops.
“They’re working. They’re not on vacation, and a lot of them will be away from their families at Christmas,” Bell said. “But they get to take time off that day and we get to perform in front of them.”
Bell also paid special tribute to his corner, most notably trainer John “Juan” Thompson, who runs the Institute of Combat in Arcata, where Bell trains.
“He’s been with me since the beginning and he taught me everything I know, from a mixed martial arts standpoint,” the 32-year-old Bell said. “His knowledge of the game and the sport is so huge. We’re really lucky to have someone like him in Humboldt County.”
Bell also thanked trainer Levi Cope and fellow fighter Tyson Miller, a younger pro who also fights out of the IOC and has been helping the more experienced pro with his preparation.
“He helps push me,” Bell said of Miller. “He’s way bigger than me and training with the bigger guys really helps.
“Most of my IOC teammates, they work as hard as me, if not harder, pushing me and making sure I’m on point.”
Friday’s fight will be televised live on the Paramount Network as well as on the Bellator App, with the action getting under way at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Bell’s family arrived in town on Wednesday and he says he’s looking forward to having them around.
The family will remain in Hawaii after the fight to spend Christmas there.
You can check out our interview with Cass Bell on this week’s Humboldt Sports Talk podcast.