As a mixed martial artist, Logan Storley has overcome the pressure of expectation from within the industry. But when he competes against Neiman Gracie in the main event of Bellator 274 next week, he will feel pressure from within to stay in title contention, so he can achieve his ultimate goal of being a Bellator champion.
Storley (12-1) has long been one of the brightest young talents in the promotion. He entered Bellator as an RFA veteran and with serious wrestling credentials as a four-time NCAA Division-I All American. Because of his previous accomplishments, much was expected of him from the start. And outside one lone defeat, he has delivered on that promise. It’s why he believes he’s finally shed the prospect label he once had and is a now fighter in the hunt for Bellator gold.
Logan Storley on his early career: ‘There was just a lot of pressure right away that I have to get to a big organization‘
“Right away, when you first start out — especially from me being a six-time state champ, four-time All-American — there was a lot of pressure,” Storley told MixedMartialArts.com. “If I lost two or three fights, I’m just done. Especially in early fights, you’re supposed to win. We’ve seen some guys who are great wrestlers who just aren’t fighters. I knew I was [a fighter] from amateur fights in high school and spending time with Tony Ferguson and Brock [Lesnar as a young professional], things like that.
“I knew that I could fight and I knew I could grapple. But there was just a lot of pressure right away that I have to get to a big organization. I’ve gotta be a top-ranked guy. And I’ve proven myself, so now it’s like –now I wanna be champ. If I walk away tomorrow, or something happens and I can’t fight anymore, I knew where I was and I proved myself during my career. But I think that’s [the story for] a lot of young fighters. Especially guys who were successful in other sports.”
Storley: ‘I don’t know if I want to fight till I’m 38‘
Although he has only been a professional for a little more than six years, the 29-year-old feels a new pressure to become a champion sooner than later. Having been a combat sports athlete since he started wrestling at five years old, he does not want to keep fighting until he is late in his 30s. He has an endpoint in mind for his combat career, and it adds a bit of urgency to his need to earn Bellator gold before his body starts to fail him.
“When it’s time for me to be done, I don’t want to fight for money. Where some guys are coming back just to take one fight. I don’t want to do that. When I feel like I can’t be competing with the top guys anymore, then I want to be done,” Storley said. “We’ve seen some guys go too long. I love fighting. I love training, and I feel like I’m at my best [right now]. My body’s been healthy. But I don’t know if I want to fight till I’m 38.
“It’s kind of crazy how guys’ bodies change. From mid-30s, sometimes guys totally fall off, and some guys will hit their peak. I always had that 35, or 36 number in my head [as the finish line]. For me, that would be a 13, 14 year [career]. That’s a long time to be competitively fighting the best guys in the world,” he said.
Another Storley win at Bellator 271 could lead to eventual drama at Sanford MMA
If Storley were to score a win over Gracie (11-2) on Feb. 19, the fifth-ranked welterweight would be near the front of the contender queue. His red-hot Sanford MMA teammate Jason Jackson could be at the front of that line if he beats three-time champion Douglas Lima in May. And with both being top young fighters in the division, there could come a time when the two have to face each other for the belt they both covet.
It’s a problem they have encountered previously when their teammates Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns fought for the UFC welterweight title in 2021 and brought an unusual new tension to the gym. Storley admits it’s a conversation he isn’t looking forward to having, but if the two had to clash in the cage for Bellator gold he would only agree to that if the promotion is willing to pay them well to fight a friend.
“It was tough for us because Gilbert and Kamaru were both my training partners. My coaches. So of course, we don’t want that to happen [again]. And I guess if it does, they’re gonna need to pay us,” said Storley. “It’s tough to go in there — and that whole camp would be weird. You’re training partners. Like, if you’re gonna fight one of your good friends and potentially screw up the gym, we want to be paid for it if you’re gonna force us to do this. I mean if it comes to it, I guess we’ll figure it out.”
Bellator 274 takes place on Feb. 19, with the event’s main card airing exclusively on Showtime starting at 9 pm ET.