Bellator 233’s Costello van Steenis plans on deferring title shot to teammate Gegard Mousasi

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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Costello van Steenis wants to make a statement to the rest of the 185-pound division at Bellator 233.

Well, actually the entire division with one exception.

The Dutch fighter van Steenis (12-1 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) meets John Salter (16-4 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) in main event of Bellator 233, which takes place Friday at WinStar World Casino.

If van Steenis defeats Salter, it could place him in the No. 1 contender slot in Bellator’s middleweight division. However, van Steenis isn’t too keen on the idea. A protege of former Bellator champ Gegard Mousasi, van Steenis said he will defer to his training partner.

“I’m not stressed about it,” van Steenis told MMA Junkie. “Gegard’s been in this business longer than I have. He gets the first shot. I’m happy to be second place for now. He’s not going to be here for a very long time anymore. He’s a lot older than I am, and I’ve still got a long road to go. Yes, let him be the king. I’ll be the ace of the division.”

Some fighters might internally feel stunted with a teammate road-blocking their road to gold. Maybe they might move a division in order to clear their path. But not van Steenis. He’s in no rush and will continue to take 185-pound fights while Mousasi hovers at the top.

“That’s not a problem at all,” van Steenis said. “When Gegard gets the belt, I’ll just fight other people who want to become contenders for the belt. They’ll have to go past me or something like that. I have no problem at all. With the more fights I do, the more contracts I will get for having more fights for Bellator. That’s exactly what I want.”

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As for his Bellator 233 headliner, van Steenis said fans are in for a treat. Wherever the fight goes, he feels prepared to neutralize Salter’s offense – all the while implementing his own.

“I think it’s going to be a violent war, for sure,” van Steenis said. “This guy is going to dig deep. He’s going to try to throw me to the floor. Just imagine if he does throw me to the floor? A lot of people are underestimating us. They’re all thinking we’re stand-up fighters. Of course I can fight in the standup.

“But at the end of the day this isn’t a wrestling match; it’s mixed martial arts, MMA, fighting. Take me to the floor, I’ll damage you there, as well. I’ll stand up and then you’ll have to do your thing again.”

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