LOS ANGELES – Steve Mowry could be forgiven if he felt like he took one step forward, then two steps back.
Mowry was in a heavyweight fight that could have had some legitimate title implications with Valentin Moldavsky this past August at Bellator 284, and less than a minute into the fight he took an eye poke he couldn’t recover from.
The resulting no contest put any immediate hopes of climbing the heavyweight ladder on hold for Mowry, and after a bit of a low period, he used the incident to bolster his mental health game.
“It is what you decide it is, and I’ve decided it’s just a thing that happened,” Mowry said at Thursday’s Bellator 290 media day. “It could’ve been much worse. There are worse things that could’ve happened – not just in general, but to me. After enough time had passed, I realized I could sit around and be depressed about it, or just accept it for what it is. I’ve had a lot of good things happen in my life, and bad things happen sometimes.”
Mowry (10-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) hoped to get rebooked with Moldavsky, but instead now finds himself about to tussle with another unbeaten heavyweight: former PFL champion Ali Isaev (9-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).
Isaev beat Jared Rosholt with a fourth-round TKO to win PFL’s first heavyweight season in December 2019. Despite scheduled fights in 2021 and 2022, he hasn’t fought in more than three years.
A wrinkle to Saturday’s matchup is that the two once trained together at American Top Team in South Florida. Mowry said he suspected they might wind up in a fight some day.
“I trained with him … right before he went and won the PFL tournament,” Mowry said. “When he won, we were really happy for him and proud of him, and he kind of disappeared there. I guess the geopolitical climate (in Russia) is what kind of held him back. Whenever I saw that Bellator had signed him, I had a feeling at some point we might have to see each other.”
Check out Mowry’s full interview above.
Bellator 290 takes place Saturday at Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card airs on CBS following prelims on MMA Junkie.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 290.