One of the top grapplers in the world — and a training partner of Conor McGregor — is headed to Bellator.
Dillon Danis inked a deal with the MMA promotion Monday, MMA Fighting confirmed with Bellator officials. Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports was the first to break the news. Danis had pondered the idea of fighting in MMA for a while; now his first pro fight will be under the Bellator banner.
Danis has been a key training partner for McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, since before McGregor’s second fight with Nate Diaz last year. Danis and McGregor have grown close.
“I want to fight the best, just like Conor does,” Danis told Yahoo. “We’re different people, though we’re very like-minded. We set high goals and we aren’t afraid to try to achieve. I feel he’s the best ever, in my opinion, and so if people want to compare us, well, how could it be bad if you’re a basketball player to be compared to Michael Jordan? That’s essentially what people would be saying if they compare us.
“I obviously respect what he has accomplished and will accomplish in the future. He’s incredible and the aura of confidence he has is amazing. He’s a champion for a reason. But I want to go down my own path and do it my way.”
Danis, a New York resident, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the legendary Marcelo Garcia. He is an IBJJF world champion as a brown belt in both gi and no gi. Danis, 23, is regarded as one of the top grapplers at his weight in the world. He told Yahoo that he plans on fighting at welterweight initially and then maybe lightweight.
Bellator can add his name to its growing list of promising prospects from a specific martial art. The promotion has wrestling blue-chippers Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth, Jarod Trice, Tyrel Fortune, and Joey Davis under contract already.
Danis told Yahoo that his plan is to have his first fight toward the end of the year.