South Bronx resident Bradley Desir walks by Madison Square Garden everyday on his way to work. Next week, he’ll compete there.
The 30-year-old MMA fighter and retired Marine will hop on the downtown A train to the Garden to make his Bellator debut, in which he’ll take on Navy veteran Nate Grebb. The June 24 bout is the scheduled opener of dual events Bellator 180 and Bellator NYC.
“It’s crazy because I’ve never fought at home,” Desir told amNewYork. “It’s the first fight at home, so there’s no excuse for anybody to not make it, so everybody’s coming out. It’s going to be crazy.
“I don’t think it’s really going to hit me until I get into the locker room, I’m getting ready, and then I hear my name and my music coming through the speakers, and then I’ll make that walk to the cage.”
Both Desir (9-5) and Grebb (3-1), who will compete in a lightweight (155 pounds) bout airing on Bellator.com, are on the undercard as part of Bellator broadcast partner Spike’s Veterans’ Operation Wellness (VOW) campaign. VOW aims to inspire veterans to make the same commitment to their health and wellness as they did to their country. The initiative offers military vets who are MMA fighters a chance to compete under the Bellator banner and train with other Bellator fighters.
“I’m excited,” said Desir, who regularly trains with Team Tiger Schulmann. “When I first started fighting, I was fighting veterans. [Grebb] was a sailor, he was in the Navy, so there’s a bit of rivalry there. I got to make sure we come out on top.”
All nine of Desir’s victories have come via knockout or submission. Having won five of his past six and coming off a Sept. 23 knockout of Julian Lane, the Flushing native feels as if he’s picking up steam.
“I feel like I finally matured as a fighter,” Desir said. “I know my strengths. I know how to stay tuned, how to play my game now. It’s great. The momentum, it feels amazing.”