Joe Schilling is already one of the best kickboxers in the world. Last year, he made his Bellator MMA debut with a Knockout of the Year candidate against of Melvin Manhoef. And "Stitch 'Em Up" might not be done there.
Schilling told MMAFighting.com that he would love to compete in Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions promotion, which will air on Spike TV along with Schilling's other two organizations: Glory World Series and Bellator.
"If I fight in a ring, I expect to win," Schilling said. "If I fight in a cage, I expect to win. If I fight in a parking lot, I expect to win. It's all pretty much the same thing with different rules."
First up, though, Schilling has a matchup with Robert Thomas at Glory 19 on Friday night in Hampton, Va. After that, the Ohio native and Los Angeles resident said he could take a Bellator fight as early as March or April.
"I have a lot of good opportunities coming up right now," Schilling said. "There's a lot of buzz behind me and I've got some big goals with 2015 and they all start with Feb. 6."
If Schilling, 31, has his way, you'll be hearing a lot about him this year in all three sports. The highlight-reel striker says he wants to be "the Donald Cerrone of Spike TV." Cerrone, a UFC star, is known for fighting as often as possible, including two fights in a span of three weeks last month.
"I feel like I'm at the age now where I'm focused enough and mature enough to do it," Schilling said. "And I really feel like this is gonna be my big year."
Schilling made it to the Glory 17 Last Man Standing tournament finals last June, beating Wayne Barrett and Simon Marcus. He fell to Artem Levin in the championship bout.
Levin is the same guy that Schilling brought into camp as a sparring partner for Nick Diaz in advance of Diaz's UFC 183 bout with Anderson Silva last week. Schilling has worked with Diaz regularly for more than a year now, training MMA up in Stockton, Calif., with Cesar Gracie, Gilbert Melendez and the Skrap Pack. Schilling also trains regularly with Lorenz Larkin at Millenia MMA in Rancho Cucamonga.
"Every day I'm trying to get better on the ground, get better with my wrestling," Schilling said.
He didn't need that at Bellator 131 on Nov. 15 against Manhoef, who he starched with a massive right hook-left hook combination. It's likely that Bellator will continue to match him up with strikers, which could be bad news for those particular middleweights. Schilling said he is open to bouts with guys like Alexander Shlemenko and former UFC veterans.
Schilling has been kickboxing for a decade and was stunned about the attention he got from one major MMA fight that wasn't even a main event.
"I always knew there was a much bigger market for MMA than kickboxing, but I never really knew how much it was," he said.
Of course, his first sport is always going to be kickboxing and the up-and-coming Thomas represents a quandary. It's almost a lose-lose. Schilling is a rising star in two sports and Thomas is largely an unknown. A defeat would be difficult to take for Schilling's plan of a huge 2015.
"He's a young, hungry up-and-comer like I was," Schilling said. "So I know how dangerous those guys can be. I'm not looking past him at all. I used to overlook guys like that and every time I did that, it came back to bite me in the ass. It just makes him a more dangerous guy, because from my experience I don't enjoy making other people famous. I don't want to be the only good name on somebody's win column."
A win over Thomas is a key to the future -- and just the beginning for Schilling. If he has his way, this year will be by far the biggest of his career. And not just in Glory -- Bellator and Premier Boxing Champions, too.
"I'm down for it," Schilling said. "I'm at a point now where I'm working with the right people. I have the right people around me and I'm here to be successful in all three."