Johnny Eblen holds a major promotional title – but that pales in comparison to the life accolades his MMA success has helped him achieve.
To put it frankly, the relationships Eblen (14-0) made early in his mixed martial arts path may have saved his life, the Bellator middleweight champion recently told MMA Junkie Radio.
“I was lost, man,” Eblen said. “I wasn’t focused on the right things. I was looking for short-term pleasures and it as a bad time in my life. It could’ve gone south. I could’ve not found fighting. I could just be miserable right now, bro. I could be dead or in jail or just a miserable human. I’m glad I met Steve Mocco and I’m glad he got me into the gym. I’m so thankful that I met Mike Brown, that I met ‘King Mo’ (Muhammed Lawal). I met Naudi Aguilar through Functional Patterns and that really changed my life a lot.
“There’s a lot of people I met throughout my life post that time period and it really changed me for the better and helped me become the man I am today.”
That’s why all the theoretical debates of who holds status as the best fighter in the world means little to Eblen, when put in perspective. Eblen thinks other fighters could benefit if they came to the same realization.
“I honestly don’t even think about that sh*t,” Eblen said. “I just think about getting better every day, keeping my health, trying to make the most out of this life when it comes to my relationships and what I do on a day-to-day basis, and just try to become a better person. I think that’s more important than all this f*cking belt sh*t and all the fake hype that really doesn’t matter. I mean, I do this for fun, man. No one is relying on me winning this f*cking fight except for myself, to feed myself and make more money. Other than that, if I f*cking lose, nothing changes in the world.
“I feel like a lot of fighters put a lot of added stress for no reason on something that literally doesn’t really matter. I’m a guy that can see that. I’m like,’Oh, this is just a competition.’ It’s for entertainment. The results really don’t matter. I don’t really put a lot of pressure on myself, man. I just try to become the best fighter that I can. When fight night comes, I just try to put on really good performances because that’s my job – to be an entertainer. That’s what I’m here to do.”
Eblen, 32, returns Feb. 24 against 2023 PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay (15-3). The bout takes place as part of the PFL vs. Bellator: Champions event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for PFL vs. Bellator: Champions.