Mixed Martial Arts

Cass Bell closing in on Bellator title shot

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By Ray Hamill — By his own admission, next week’s MMA fight in Connecticut will be a “huge step up” for Cass Bell

More important, his management has been told that a victory should move the Humboldt County native within one win of a Bellator title shot.

“This is big time. This is a huge step up for me,” said Bell, who is 5-0 and will put his unbeaten run on the line against the experienced Raufeon Stots at Bellator 242 next Friday. “He’s definitely going to be super tough. He’s 13-1, and in his only loss he was clipped just 15 seconds in, which can happen to anybody.”

The 31-year-old Stots fights out of the prestigious Roufusport MMA Academy and is a two-time All-American wrestler.

“He has pretty good wrestling skills,” said Bell who fights out of the Institute of Combat in Arcata. “And he’s a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, so he’s going to have some skills there.

“But I’m pretty confident in what I have to offer.”

Bell will fly out of the Bay Area on Sunday with his corner — trainer John Thompson and fellow Institute of Combat pro Tyson Miller.

The fight, which will be televised live on the Paramount Network and on Bellator’s YouTube channel, is part of the preliminary card, with the main event featuring Ricky Bendejas and Sergio Pettis.

It is the first Bellator event since February and will be held without fans in attendance.

“To be on the first card coming back, that’s a big deal,” Bell said. “So I’m super thankful for that.”

Preparation has been limited because of the COVID-19 restrictions, and Bell has been able to spar with just a few teammates.

But after taking a few weeks off during the shelter-in-place order to “let his body heal and hang out with family,” Bell has been back in full training mode for several weeks now and was made aware of his opponent a couple of weeks ago.

“It definitely took a minute, but I’m back in the groove now,” he said. “I’m just super stoked, super excited.”

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