In a world consumed by competition, we often live by one simple motto: the bigger, the better.

Bellator middleweight Duane Bastress is no different.

Bastress, who sits at 5-1 and has posted a perfect 2-0 record since joining one of the sport’s top promotions, is happy with what he’s accomplished up until this point in his career. However, Bastress is by no means content. Like the majority of individuals who enter MMA, he has one goal in mind—get better

Unfortunately for the Pennsylvania native, he’s not getting any younger.

Duane Bastress (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I love having the opportunity to show my skills on the biggest stage,” Bastress told The MMA Corner.

While Bastress knows it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype, his focus is making the most of the opportunity presented in front of him. Bastress realizes that every time he enters the cage, it may be his last.

“It’s a great honor to fight for an organization such as Bellator.  It’s even more of an honor to be the first York area fighter to make it to such a big organization such as Bellator.  I honestly never really thought about where I would arrive,” Bastress admitted. “I’ve always taken the approach of one training session, one day, one week, one month, one fight at a time and wherever the road takes me is where I end up.”

Bastress has certainly made the most of his experience with Bellator, as he’s coming off what many consider the biggest victory of his career where he knocked out Plinio Cruz in the second round of action at Bellator 65. As demonstrated against Cruz, Bastress’ goal is to seek the win and finish the fight as soon as possible.

“It’s just another step towards the ultimate goal, which is to compete in the tournament and eventually the world championship.  My coach always preaches violence and finish a fight if you have the chance.  That’s the only thing I was thinking, was finish him now,” said Bastress.

“Plinio is a great fighter, but also a great person.  His corner was nothing but very respectful to my team and I during the whole fight,” said Bastress. “It was an honor to win the way I did.”

Bastress will look to continue his recent manhandling when he meets one of the sport’s most promising fighters in Jason Butcher at Bellator 71. Butcher brings about a different approach for Bastress, as his strength certainly lies in his ground game and the ability to outscramble his opponent. Nonethless, Bastress will be prepared when the opening bell sounds on Friday, June 22.

Bastress (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“Jason is another great competitor that I am looking forward to fighting in a few short days,” stated Bastress.  “We both love to be on the ground and I can see this fight going there very quickly.  We have watched video and have a great game plan for the fight in terms of what Jason is going to do.  If everything goes to plan, you will be able to see what we’ve worked on exploiting.”

“I wish I could predict the future and how it would end, but I can’t,” said Bastress. “I have to say that we want a dominant performance, but a win is a win at this stage of the game.”

As many martial artists become accustomed to the bright lights, fame and fortune that the sport has to offer, they quickly forget where they’ve come from. Proudly, Bastress is not one of these individuals. Instead, his success is a testament to those who’ve invested in his life.

“I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania region, and I’m proud of it. I would like to thank my wife, family, friends, and my dog, Champ. They are the greatest support system that I could ever ask for,” said Bastress. “I would also like to thank all my sponsors and fans.”

“They have all pushed me to become the best that I can be.”

Top Photo: Duane Bastress (Keith Mills/Sherdog)