With title in sight, Bellator 210’s Bruna Ellen looking to leave no doubts against Kristina Williams

When Bruna Ellen entered the Bellator cage for the first time, at only 20 and only two fights into her MMA career, she wasn’t as intimidated as many would expect a fighter in such conditions to be.

Ellen had, after all, spent a lot of her life taking part kung fu and sanda competitions. She already knew what it was like to venture far from her native Brazil for tournaments, to eat food that she wasn’t used to and to compete in front of crowds that weren’t in her favor.

Still, as the unanimous-decision loss to Jessica Middleton at Bellator 159 reflected, it wasn’t a good night for the flyweight.

“In my (Bellator) debut, I had several problems throughout camp,” Ellen told MMAjunkie. “During the fight, too, I felt weakness, a bunch of things. I got flustered and I went for a takedown, I think in the second round or the first, and I landed underneath her. Even though I had a good head, I felt it.”

Dealing with the unexpected comes with the territory when two people agree to fight each other in a cage. Ellen’s brain, however, clearly had a problem doing that on her first pro loss. So, with the fact of what happened established, she set out to discover the why.

That search led Ellen (4-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) to a sports coach, who she’s been working with for the past two years. And, as she rides a two-fight winning streak into Friday’s Bellator 210 appointment with Kristina Williams (2-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), it seems to be working.

“Nowadays, my head is a lot better,” Ellen said. “I’m strong not only physically, but mentally, which is even more important – not getting frustrated with anything that happens in the fight. Because there will always be things that we don’t expect. I think we need to program our heads to solve it right away and come up with various solutions, instead of focusing on the problem.

“I’ve learned that and I train it every week. I think it changed everything. Personally, professionally, during training, during the fight, it made a lot of difference.”

When Ellen returns to the cage at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla., it will mean the end of a 15-month layoff. That’s hardly the type of time any fighter likes to spend away from the cage – especially a young, otherwise active one like Ellen.

“It was very hard,” Ellen admits, but here’s yet another advantage of her level-headedness; rather than lament the surgery that kept her out of a scheduled meeting with veteran Valerie Letourneau, Ellen says “it only worked to make my hungrier for this one.”

Letourneau would end up going up against Williams, who was no push-over throughout their three-round affair. Still, Letourneau was the one who thrived, thus securing her stab at the flyweight belt that Ilima-Lei Macfarlane currently holds.

But, the way she sees it, Ellen didn’t do too bad for herself, either.

“I’d said I wanted to fight (Williams),” Ellen said. “So when I heard about the fight I liked it, I was happy. I already knew what I had to do. It was good news.”

Ellen likes that Williams has an aggressive, striking-focused style that is similar to hers. That can not only make for a solid scrap, Ellen says, but also present her with the openings to help her accomplish the mission she’s set out to do on Friday.

“Since she always comes in quite open, I can work with that,” Ellen said. “I can work with her attacks. We have a very set strategy with that. I think her game will help me in what I want to do.”

Although “what I want to do” is always, of course, win, Ellen says she isn’t usually too attached to how it happens. With every different opponent comes a different strategy, and the flyweight tries not to let her focus stray too far away from what’s immediately ahead of her.

At the same tome, however, Ellen is not oblivious to her momentum. Or to what it could mean should she convert it into a three-fight winning streak on Friday.

“This fight, in particular, I intend to win well, leaving no doubt,” Ellen said. “Because then I already want to be in the path for the title. I want to finish it within the three rounds.”

Normally, the idea of 22-year-old fighter with only three fights for a major promotion could seem a bit out-of-touch with reality. But this isn’t exactly a normal situation, as a three-fight winning streak in Bellator’s still-building flyweight division certainly means something.

Add to it that this is a main card fight, and that the also relatively inexperienced Williams could have feasibly earned a title shot had she beaten Letourneau, and Ellen’s own stab at the belt could happen soon – “very soon,” Ellen believes.

It’s been a fast road here, Ellen assesses. But, with circumstances and “a really good head” on her side, she also believes things are happening just in time.

“I’m going after the belt and I’m going to work even harder to keep it, which is the hardest part,” Ellen said.

For more on Bellator 210, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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