With a record of 21-2, and wins in 11 of his last 12 fights, he is by far the most highly ranked fighter in any division on the Bellator roster. The 27-year-old Philadelphian's quest for widespread acclaim -- done completely outside the UFC machine -- has been a slow burn.
"The answer is to continually improve my training, be diligent and work hard ... That's been my formula from the beginning. It wasn't to be No. 1 in the world or to remain the champion for so long. It was to fight for a living. That was my only goal. I got to that goal by staying focused on what was in front of me and improving every day."
"We trade secrets, push each other, go after each other," he said of UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. "It's like iron sharpens iron. We push each other, make each other better. It makes for a good relationship as we make each other better."
"We say that me & Frankie are both No. 1 in the world. There's no conflict of interest. We have different goals. Frankie wants to be No. 1 in his promotion, the UFC. I want to be No. 1 in the world outside of the UFC. No. 1 out of all the other promotions ... We're taking ourselves and separating ourselves from the pack. You're going to have a whole lot of 155-pounders at one level, and we're pushing each other to separate ourselves from the rest of them."
"I wouldn't have a problem fighting Frankie, and I don't think Frankie would have a problem fighting me. We fight each other every week, make each other better every week. If it came down to it and Dana said, 'Frankie we need you to fight this guy', do I think Frankie would do it? I think Frankie would be for it and I'd be for it as long as the money was there."
"Rankings are based off your last couple opponents in the last couple years, so there's no way I can say I'm the No. 1 in the world because my opposition hasn't shown so. But, do I think I can beat anyone in the world on any given day? Absolutely ... Believe that. Don't second guess that."
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