At age 14, Justin Montalvo knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"Anybody that said otherwise, I would just get mad at them," Montalvo said. "Like, ‘Dude, this is what I want to do. This is what I'm going to do.’ And those people that said otherwise, they motivated me."
Now 25, the West Hempstead-raised Montalvo is doing exactly what he wants to do: competing in professional mixed martial arts. He’s pretty good at it, too.
"I tried it all. I tried the guitar, I stunk at the guitar. I tried skateboarding, I stunk at them. What else am I gonna do? I love to fight."
Montalvo (4-0) brings his undefeated record into the cage at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday for a lightweight bout at Bellator 274. Montalvo’s prelim bout against Corey Samuels (3-2) will stream on Showtime and Bellator’s YouTube channels. As will fellow Longo and Weidman MMA teammate Aviv Gozali (6-0) as he faces lightweight Bobby King (10-4). Welterweights Neiman Gracie and Logan Storley headline the main card on Showtime.
This will be the second fight in Bellator for both Montalvo and Samuels. Montalvo won a unanimous decision over Jacob Bohn last December at Bellator 272. Montalvo peppered the body of Bohn throughout the fight and stuffed 18 of 21 takedown attempts en route to the 29-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision. It was the first time Montalvo went the distance.
"I was able to see how I could do on a big stage," Montalvo said. "I think it was a good fight for me to get a good feel for how it feels to be on a bigger stage. It felt great."
While he put 15 minutes of fighting to be reviewed on video, his opponent Samuels left less of an internet footprint in his Bellator debut. Samuels knocked out his opponent, Isaiah Hokit, in 10 seconds.
Montalvo doesn’t seem to mind the difference. Nor does such a stat intimidate him. He doesn’t quite seem to care who the opponent is at this stage of his career.
"I want to test myself against everybody," Montalvo said. "The first guy my manager tells me, I don't turn anyone down. They have one guy for me, I say yes, give me him. First guy. I'm trying to be a champ. I'm trying to be the best in the world. So, I'm not ducking nobody. I don't care if it’s a Nurmagomedov, gimme him."
Montalvo said that mentality makes his life a little bit easier.
"Knowing I'll fight anybody makes me feel more at peace than worrying about who I'm gonna fight all the time," Montalvo said. "Like ‘Oh, I don't want to fight this guy because he does this. I don't want to fight this guy because he does this.’ Karma’s gonna get you eventually. Like ‘oh maybe this guy’ll be a good fight for me’ and then that guy kicks your ass. So I'm just gonna fight everybody. No worries, just say yes."
BELLATOR MMA 274 FIGHT CARD
Main card, 9 p.m. ET on Showtime
Welterweight: Neiman Gracie (11-2) vs. Logan Storley (12-1)
Welterweight: Andrey Koreshkov (24-4) vs. Chance Rencountre (16-4)
Lightweight: Georgi Karakhanyan (31-12-1) vs. Adam Piccolotti (12-4)
Heavyweight: Davion Franklin (4-0) vs. Said Sowma (8-2)
Prelims, 6 p.m. on YouTube, Pluto TV
Lightweight: Mandel Nallo (8-1, 1 NC) vs. Nick Browne (12-1)
175-pound contract weight: Brennan Ward (14-6) vs. Brandon Bell (10-10)
Bantamweight: Jaylon Bates (4-0) vs. Chris Disonell (6-4)
Lightweight: Aviv Gozali (6-0) vs. Bobby King (10-4)
Flyweight: DeAnna Bennett (11-7-1) vs. Justine Kish (7-4)
Middleweight: Jordan Newman (3-0) vs. Cody Herbert (2-0)
Lightweight: Justin Montalvo (4-0) vs. Corey Samuels (3-2)
Featherweight: Isaiah Hokit (0-1) vs. Theodore Macuka (1-2)
Welterweight: Orlando Mendoza (0-1) vs. Jonathan Di Lorenzo (1-0)