Bellator 216's Tyrell Fortune is tired of fighting 'nobodies'
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Bellator heavyweight Tyrell Fortune might be competing in the big leagues, but he’s fighting a very regional problem: consistency.
Fortune, a standout wrestler and undefeated prospect, only received his upcoming opponent two weeks ago. The previous one, it changed the Monday of fight week.
“I’ve learned now you’ve got to be prepared for anything,” Fortune, who faces Ryan Pokryfky at Bellator 216, told MMAjunkie. “At all times, be ready to fight.”
Then there’s the issue of staying active. When you’re 28 and in the prime of your athletic career, it’s hard to stomach sitting on the bench for seven months between fights.
“It’s like asking a tree to grow without giving it water,” Fortune said.
In a certain sense, Fortune can understand why it’s been like this. Bellator considers him a “blue-chip prospect.” Instead of giving him marquee opponents now, the Viacom-owned promotion is taking it step by step. Presumably, the organization hopes to build him into the kind of star that’s not only well known, but ready to face a champion.
Only just recently the world watched the result when a young contender moves too quickly.
Of course, that’s little consolation to Fortune (5-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA). He wants and needs experience, but at a faster pace than Bellator is apparently willing to offer. And it’s not easily something he can re-frame into a challenge that can be overcome.
“I don’t know. Call it adversity or just bad business,” Fortune said.
It also didn’t help when he suffered a serious bicep injury that required two surgeries. You can’t stay active when you’re not medically cleared.
These things are all part of the game for up-and-coming fighters. The MMA business isn’t like amateur wrestling, where you can bounce from tournament to tournament facing multiple opponents. MMA is driven by profit and constrained by supply, leaving many talented athletes on the shelf as they wait for a phone call. And when it comes, the pressure to deliver is even greater to avoid a setback.
Fortune is confident he can handle whatever Bellator throws at him. Sooner than later, he hopes the promotion agrees – and responds accordingly.
“I think if I continue to fight these nobodies, I’m not really advancing,” Fortune said. “I’m not really going anywhere. That doesn’t really do much for me. So I just hope to fight somebody with a name and keep moving from there.”