Undefeated Bellator heavyweight Steve Mowry was well aware that former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou entered free agency, and that there’s a chance Ngannou could enter the fray in the Bellator heavyweight division. As great as that could potentially be for the promotion, and possibly for Mowry, he’s focused on the task at hand.
Mowry takes on former PFL heavyweight tournament winner Ali Isaev on Saturday at Bellator 290 at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. As far as Ngannou’s exit from the UFC goes, Mowry was impressed with Ngannou’s approach to taking a stance for his fellow fighter — as he said on The MMA Hour days after the news was revealed by UFC President Dana White.
“It was really cool to hear that in his make or break meeting, one of the things he made a push for was a fighter’s advocate,” Mowry told MMA Fighting. “Whenever the mystical fighters’ union talks happened, Jon Jones was the guy people expected to make the push because he was one of the guys, and I remember in an interview that he didn’t have anything to say about it. The most interesting thing about him not having an answer was that I could see where he was coming from.
“All these years later, we have Francis Ngannou in a similar situation, and if what the reports say are true, he was in a position where he could’ve said, ‘F*** all you [fighters], I’ll ride this out.’ But instead, he wanted to advocate for the athletes. I think that’s really cool. If he was stepping up to kick in the door for his fellow man, especially for those who don’t hold a candle to what he has accomplished, I think that’s really cool.”
Mowry and Isaev have trained together in the past, having some very tough rounds while sparring at Kill Cliff FC. Because of that, Mowry knows he needs to focus all of his attention on Isaev, and not on the news cycle regarding a massive name in Ngannou possibly joining the division.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Mowry said of Ngannou. “I heard Bellator’s making a big push for him, and as I’ve said about Ali Isaev, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll have to fight him some day.’ But I have a name on the dotted line right now, and it’s not Francis Ngannou, it’s a very tough Dagestani wrestler who I’ve trained with in the past, and I’m really only focused on putting on a great performance against him.”
Isaev competes in his promotional debut and his first fight since winning the PFL heavyweight tournament in December 2019, when he stopped Jared Rosholt in the fourth round. The win improved his overall record to 9-0.
The 30-year-old Mowry is unbeaten in 11 pro fights, finishing all 10 of his victories inside the distance. In his most recent outing, Mowry only got to compete for 54 seconds as an accidental eye poke in his Bellator 284 fight with Valentin Moldavsky in August led to the bout being ruled a no-contest.
With that moment in the rear view mirror, Mowry has a headline in store when it comes to his former training partner and upcoming opponent.
“Steve Mowry wins in his most violent and spectacular fight,” Mowry said.