ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Johnny Eblen stayed unbeaten this past Saturday in what was his toughest test yet – and now he thinks a title shot could be next.
Eblen (11-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) dominated John Salter (18-6 MMA, 8-3 BMMA) in their middleweight fight at Bellator 276 at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo. Salter was in the top spot in Bellator’s official rankings behind champ Gegard Mousasi, who beat him in a title fight in 2021. Eblen sat at No. 3, so logic says he’ll now move into the top contender spot.
Eblen called for a title fight against Mousasi in the wake of his win.
“I’m a man who likes to work, so whatever gets me the next fight, I’m down to do it,” Eblen told MMA Junkie. “Obviously, I would love to fight for the title. If that doesn’t happen, so be it. But I am the No. 1 contender now, and the guy hasn’t fought me yet. So let’s do it maybe.
“If I fight three more times and get a little bit more experience, I’ll probably be more prepared for that fight. But the thing is, I think I’m ready now. I think I match up well with Mousasi. I think I’m just a younger version of him, pretty much. I expect to do better than him, honestly, in my career. He said he only has two fights left in his career and then he’s dipping (out). I want to be one of those fights, and I want to be sure of it. I don’t want anything weird to happen.”
The 36-year-old Mousasi is coming off a quick TKO win over one of Eblen’s American Top Team teammates, Austin Vanderford, in the Bellator 275 main event in February.
Bellator president Scott Coker would not commit to a title shot for Eblen after Bellator 276, but acknowledged Mousasi might have more than the two fights left that he’s talked about.
“I think his stock went way up (Saturday),” Coker said of Eblen. “We do have a couple other guys we’ve been talking with Gegard, but I think Johnny’s name is right up in the mix today after his win over Salter.
“Gegard says that (he only wants two more fights), and then he tells me, ‘I want to fight three more times before the end of the year.’ He’s got a lot of watches to buy, so I think we’ll be fine.”
Check out the full post-fight interview with Eblen in the video above.
Photos: Best of Bellator 276
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Gegard Mousasi def. Austin Vanderford at Bellator 275: Best photos
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Twitter reacts to Gegard Mousasi’s quick title defense over Austin Vanderford at Bellator 275