Cody Law doesn’t expect nerves to be an issue when he makes his professional mixed martial arts debut at Bellator 250 on Thursday evening.
The Forest Hills graduate has been on big stages before, winning a PIAA wrestling title with the Rangers and an NCAA Division II championship when he was at Pitt-Johnstown. He was 5-0-0 as an amateur fighter and said knowing that his livelihood depends on his performances won’t cause him to press when he faces Orlando “One Shot” Ortega.
“I don’t feel that way at all,” Law said in a phone interview Monday from Connecticut. “I feel excited – like this is the start of my life. I don’t feel nervous. I trust defense, I trust my chin, I trust my preparation and my skills. What do I have to lose?”
Law will be the first fight of the night, which is headlined by Douglas Lima and Gegard Mousasi competing for the vacant middleweight title.
Law will be fighting as a featherweight at 146 pounds – 11 pounds lighter than the weight where he won his NCAA title.
When he spoke on Monday night, Law had not yet begun shedding water weight ahead of his weigh-in but he was eager to get started.
“I’m ready to fight,” he said. “I wish I could weigh in tonight and fight tomorrow.”
Like Law, Ortega will be making his pro debut.
Ortega, who fights out of New York, was 3-3 in his amateur career. Law was asked what he thinks of Ortega’s style.
“Wild – I think maybe wild,” Law said. “It’s hard to say what he’s going to be like against me.
“He throws some wild punches with his chin up, but maybe against me, he might back up and circle a little bit more. I’m not super concerned about what he’s going to do. If I do my thing, I think it will take care of itself.”
Law has been training in Florida, and he will be cornered by American Top Team’s Mike Brown and Anderson Franca as well as the Mat Factory’s Isaac Greeley. Brown was a World Extreme Cagefighting champion and UFC veteran before turning to coaching. Franca, Law’s kickboxing coach, has trained numerous UFC fighters and world champions. Greeley was a two-time All-American wrestler at Pitt-Johnstown before turning to MMA, and he has been with Law since the beginning of his fighting career.
Law also credited Matt Leshock of the Southside Boxing Club in Pittsburgh, and Philip Ameris, who worked with him on taekwondo, as big influences on his career.
“I’m just really happy with how things are going out here,” Law said. “The Bellator people have been super to me. It’s got a good vibe. Everything’s running smoothly.”
Following his prefight photoshoot, Law posted pictures on social media, and he began hearing from supporters from the Johnstown area. He expects even more to reach out as his fight night nears. Such messages aren’t a distraction, he said, noting that he’s not one to impose a social media ban on himself in the hours before he competes.
“I try to reach a happy medium,” he said. “I don’t like to go too crazy. I’m not sitting on my phone scrolling through tweets and negativity, but I’ll take the positivity. I get to look at that stuff a little bit.”
There could be plenty more of it headed his way if he picks up a victory on Thursday night.