Brent Primus found himself in the Bellator lightweight grand prix and plans to make a pair of massive statements right out of the gate.
After Sidney Outlaw tested positive in a drug rest, Primus was tapped as his replacement and will face Mansour Barnaoui at Bellator 296 this Friday in Paris, France. Primus, a former lightweight champion, enters the bout as a massive underdog on enemy territory — a place he’s found comfort in during his career.
“I’ve been here many times,” Primus told MMA Fighting. “I’ve fought in their backyards lots of times, been the underdog, and spoiled the party. I’m ready to do it again, man. He’s a big deal here, everybody likes him and thinks he has a good chance to win the tournament. I’m definitely here to upset him.”
Barnaoui enters the bout with an impressive eight-fight win streak — finishing all of his opponents, including Adam Piccolotti in his promotional debut at Bellator 287 in October. The 30-year-old hasn’t been stopped in his professional career, but Primus believes there’s a first time for everything.
“I really feel like I can submit this guy or finish him on the feet,” Primus said. “I feel like I can definitely finish him for sure. I know he hasn’t been finished in 24 fights or whatever, but that’s why I’m here.”
The stakes for this matchup in particular go beyond just moving on in the tournament and getting one step closer to the $1 million prize. The winner will move on to fight for the 155-pound world title in the second round against current champ Usman Nurmagomedov.
Primus isn’t looking over Barnaoui in any way, but he can’t help but think his shot to hand Nurmagomedov his first loss could be a form of kismet, as he says he’s been hoping for that matchup since the undefeated prospect started quickly making his name up the ranks.
“I was asking to fight him last year, or a while ago, and here’s my chance,” Primus said of Nurmagomedov. “Just one more fight and they get that chance.
“He’s really good, I think he’s a good champ, he comes from a good camp, comes with really good training partners. I like Usman, but when I get in that cage, I’ll definitely put all of that in the past and finish that dude.”