For 29-year-old Chris Lozano, the Bellator season-six welterweight tournament marks the opportunity to grow from past mistakes and prove he is ready to be a champion.

The Cleveland-native is preparing for his third 170-pound tournament, and is hoping to end his hometown’s championship curse.

“If you’re in Bellator, you’ve made it,” the fighter told The MMA Corner. “But if you win the tournament and beat all those guys from around the world, you’re truly the best. These fighters are hungry; trying to get to the next level.”

Lozano has faced some big names in his previous tournament draws, including former champion Lyman Good and last season’s winner Douglas Lima. He won’t have an easy path in season six, as he takes on Frenchman Karl Amoussou at Bellator 63 on March 30.

Lozano (L) delivers a body shot (Sherdog)

“I’ve fought a straight killer every time I have fought (in Bellator),” Lozano explained. “Because of my style, they put me in tough fights that the fans want to see. Certain guys with names come into the tournament and they want them to go further. But with me, they throw me in the fire right away. I’ve never had an easy road.”

The fighter didn’t take the easy road to MMA either. After growing up competing in tae kwon do and wrestling, Lozano opted to try boxing before making the more natural transition to MMA.

“I wanted to compete after high school, so I started boxing,” said Lozano. “I was doing okay, but I always found myself wanting to kick dudes or take them down. I got frustrated because I couldn’t use all the skills I acquired over the years.”

Now that he has found a way to utilize his full skill set, Lozano is still evolving as a fighter. He recently transitioned from his previous team, Strong Style, to Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M. A move prompted by his previous tournament losses.

“When you lose, it makes a champion grow,” Lozano declared. “When I lost to Lyman Good, I learned about the physical preparation; strength and cardio. He was on another level from everyone I had fought before. I realized that’s how all the fighters are at this level because they train so hard. Whatever you think is working hard, you’ve got to work twice, four times as hard.”

“Losing to Douglas Lima, I learned about the mental preparation that has to go into every fight. Going to that fight, my head wasn’t there. Physically, I was in the best shape of my career, but mentally, I wasn’t prepared to face a world-class fighter like him. You have to be confident in every aspect of your game. That’s why I made the switch to Jackson’s. The big picture is becoming a champion and getting the most out of my career.”

(Sherdog)

The move to Jackson’s has elevated Lozano’s confidence heading into the fight with Amoussou. Despite the Frenchman’s judo prowess and experience edge, Lozano isn’t concerned.

“I think the old version of me matched up well with him, but now that I am training at Jackson’s, I think I’m a better fighter than he is,” said the welterweight. “I think I’ve passed him up. If the same fighter he was in his last fight comes into the cage on March 30, then he’s in trouble.”

Should Lozano get past Amoussou, he knows he’ll be facing another tough opponent in the next round with the likes of UFC veteran Ben Saunders and the well-rounded Bryan Baker in the field.

“They’re always in the back of your mind because you know that you could be fighting them,” Lozano admitted. “Even with Brian Foster and War Machine being pulled from the tournament, the field is stacked. You can’t overlook any of these guys, but right now I’m just focused on Karl Amoussou and I haven’t even looked at tape on any of the other guys.”

With a strong sense of determination and a new team behind him, Lozano will be a tough match-up for anyone in the Bellator welterweight division, and it all starts on Friday night.

Chris would like to thank Jackson’s MMA, Strong Style Martial Arts (they’re still family), Fresh Catch Seafood of Cleveland, Future Legends, Lexani, Carnal Damage MMA, VXRSI, and Bas Rutten.

Top Photo: Chris Lozano (Sherdog)

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