New Bellator signing Rob Sinclair believes he has been handed the toughest test possible ahead of his debut.
BAMMA’s former World lightweight champion, who relinquished his prized title to team up with the famed American organisation, will face veteran Rich Clementi at Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, on September 27th.
His 36-year-old opponent, who fights out of Slidell, Louisiana, has an MMA record that reads 45 wins from 68 outings on varied platforms including the UFC, K-1 Hero’s, DREAM, King of the Cage and Titan FC. The seasoned Gladiator Gym star reached the semi-final stage of the tournament on season seven last year but Marcin Held’s toe hold forced him in to submission.
Ahead of the season nine match-up, Sinclair said: “It’s probably the hardest start to the tournament I could have had. He’s experienced and he knows how to win but I would’ve had to fight him at some point. I’m confident though.
“He doesn’t look as comfortable stood up as he does wrestling and grappling. I’ll have to watch out for that because I don’t want to be grounded for any length of time. I need to keep him standing so I have the advantage. He’s no pushover though and he can take a dig. My prediction is that I’ll edge a decision.”
Sinclair, known in the business as C4 for his explosive striking power, remarkably hadn’t had any boxing tuition up until recently though the 33-year-old does have a background in Thai boxing. While the Burnley MMA fighter has been expanding his repertoire in order to give him the edge in the eight-man tournament, his main focus has been on building on his strengths with pro boxer Wayne Bennett at Burnley Amateur Boxing Club.
“I’m ready to rock and roll,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning work at the Perform Centre and I’ve been doing plenty of boxing at Burnley Amateur Boxing Club. I’ve been sparring at Predators MMA and I’ve done some swimming as well so my all round fitness has improved. I’m happy with my progress.
“I’ve got to get a more rounded skill set for this tournament and I’ve got to get it to a good level. You never know which opponent could be awaiting you next. There’s a range of fighters once I progress so I need to be prepared. I’m just developing a good repertoire in my arsenal.”
He added: “This season’s tournament is the strongest there’s been. Awad has been a finalist and there’s a few UFC veterans. There isn’t an easy route but I’m determined to go there and get the belt.”