Having been familiar with his opponent from their time on the local scene together, featherweight Jeremiah Labiano felt like he had a good chance to pick up a win versus Justin Smiley at Bellator 206 in their bout last September at Bellator 206.
At just past the first half of Round 1, Labiano got in a position he was working on directly before the fight and was able to capitalize on it and pick up a first round TKO of Smiley.
“(Smiley has) been in my local scene for a while and stuff like that, so we knew he was a pretty good grappler and stuff,” Labiano told MMAWeekly.com. “During that whole camp, and the past few camps, we had been really working on leg games and stuff like that.
“We came in and I ended up catching his kick, took him down, and he tried to wrap me up in a leglock, which is what we practicing in the back (before walking out to the cage). I did everything I needed to do; I shut down his hips and I ended up punching him out and getting a TKO win.”
The win over Smiley was Labiano’s third in his last four fights. Labiano has had several months between bouts and has been able to use the time off to improve his game, resulting in his good recent stretch.
“(Extended time of between) fights happens,” said Labiano. “We get fights and they fall off, nothing comes, so I just try to stay prepared and stuff.
“I see my improvement) in both fights and I see it in training. My head coach’s job is to push and assess me, and he sees the development and I see the development. When I go into a fight, like I did in my last fight, it shows itself.”
On Saturday in London, Labiano (12-6) will look to build up a winning streak when he faces James Gallagher (8-1) in a 140-pound main card bout at Bellator: London.
“It won’t go to the score cards, I’ll tell you that much,” Labiano said. “I’ve been watching him for a while and I know what he does and what he’s good at. I know what I’m good at and the areas of my game that I need to work on to fill those gaps. On June 22 I’m going to execute the game plan and come out with the win.”
For Labiano the goal for the remainder of 2019 is simple: stay as active as he can be while focusing on each opportunity as it comes his way.
“I want to focus on this fight and win this fight, and then if another fight pops up I’ll take it,” said Labiano. “We’re going to take it step by step and one fight at a time.”