Bellator 268 will be the biggest night in Julius Anglickas’ five year professional prize fighting career. However, despite being on the cusp of championship gold in a major promotion on Oct. 16, the humble hulk of a man does not plan to diverge from the modest mindset that earned him a chance at a Bellator title in just three fight.
“I didn’t expect a title fight so soon. I thought it was gonna be in a year, a year and a half that I start talking about it. Because I’m in no rush,” Anglickas told MixedMartialArts.com. “Whatever the promotion says, alright, cool, let’s do it. Baby steps.”
Julius Anglickas on scoring a title bout in three fights: ‘Some people said I deserved it, some trolls said I didn’t’
Yet, here we are. After only a few fights in the promotion, the 30-year-old finds himself in the semifinals of the Bellator light heavyweight Grand Prix, and readying to face reigning champion Vadim Nemkov in the main event of Saturday night’s event. Granted, this opportunity came with a little luck after original semifinalist Anthony Johnson dropped out due to a mysterious illness. However, Anglickas was the obvious choice to replace the UFC veteran because he is ranked right behind the other three men left in the tournament. In a way, things maybe worked out the way they were supposed to for the tournament alternate.
“You always wish that maybe something will happen to someone and you can jump [into the tournament] but you definitely don’t want nothing bad [to happen],” said Anglickas. “So I hope [Johnson’s] good, hope he’s fine, hope he’s gonna be back. The universe gave this and I’ll try to make the best of it.
Although he’s earned this opportunity fair and square, don’t expect the former LFA 205-pound champion to confidently explain why his nine fight win streak and 10-1 record make him worthy of this opportunity. That’s just not his style. He didn’t even campaign hard for a GP over Bellator newcomers like Johnson and Yoel Romero. Even when he was considered a top-8 fighter in the division before the tournament was announced. His natural inclination is to show respect to those that have established themselves before him.
“I always say in interviews, I’m still stuck in that amateur mentality,” Anglickas says. “It’s almost like I’m still trying to be someone, while those guys already have a name. I’m trying to recognize that, I’m trying to give them all the credit that they deserve.
“A lot of people said I deserved it. Some trolls [said I didn’t]. It’s awesome. I mean everybody wants the shot. What would have happened if I turned it down and someone came in and won. Now what? I would have regrets all my life.”
Humbleness is what got Anglickas to Bellator 268, and he isn’t changing now
North American fans are so used to big name MMA stars having a brash and bold approach to their careers and media interations. Part of that comes from an immense confidence after success at the highest levels of the sport. It can also just be a good bit of brand building as the spotlight is shining brightly on them. However, don’t expect success to force an evolution in the always humble Anglickas. He admits embracing the possibility of defeat keeps his edge. And changing his persona publicly to match today’s norms would be a lie he couldn’t maintain.
“Acknowledging the losing part is what keeps me on my toes. Acknowledging all the dangers. … [Being less humble], it’s almost like telling a lie and trying to remember a lie,” said Anglickas. “So me trying to be somebody who I’m not, its like I would have to remember that act, that character. Right now, I’m just having a conversation.
“I’m just gonna try and say what I feel at the moment versus what people tell me to say. … I’m just being me. A while ago I was thinking, I’m in a spotlight. People are watching. My mom’s watching. And just like any other job, you have to present yourself better.”
Anglickas dealt with UFC staff pushing him to be someone he wasnt
Anglickas has tasted what it’s like to be compelled to be different than the person he is at his core. That came before his 2019 victory on Dana White’s Contender Series. When in pre-fight interviews for the show, the UFC’s production team pushed hard to make the native of Lithuania speak in a way he was not comfortable with. It’s something he did not get from members of Bellator’s media team as they recorded his training sessions in the lead up to his title bout on Saturday.
“With the crew that came to film our [Bellator 268] interview, nobody pushed nothing and everybody liked the way I talked or communicated. And they were like, ‘you keep doing that.’ I mean, how many crap talkers can we have? There was no extra, ‘hey you’ve got be this, you’ve got to be that,’ he said.
“There was never that, and I remember when I did the UFC promotion for the Contender Series, questions were flipped in a away that sounds like you’re being a little cocky. They even yelled at me. They had trouble with me. [They were shouting], ‘Julius, we get it you’re, trying to respect that guy’ and this and that. It was [questions] like, what’s he bad at and what are there things you’re better at than him. It’s like, I don’t like saying I’m better than you. No, I want that fear, I want to give you that extra credit so it keeps me on my toes.”
Anglickas has reached this point by being his humble self at all times, and he is not changing a thing before his first Bellator title fight.
Bellator 268 takes place on Oct. 16 from inside the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The event’s main card will air exclusively on Showtime and starts at 10 pm ET.