Looking to improve on a 2020 that saw him suffer back to back losses, welterweight Mark Lemminger was in need of a win when he faced Demarques Jackson at Bellator 260 this past June.

Not only was Lemminger able to pick up a win over Jackson but with a second round TKO, he was able to put a definitive stamp on his first bout of 2021 and earn a new contract in the process.

“I think that was a good fight for me,” Lemminger told MMAWeekly.com. “I knew that fight was my last on my contract, and I really wanted to end it with a finish.

“I’m a competitive guy, and I can pick a fight apart and I can tell you everything I did wrong in the fight, but at the end of the day I got the finish, and it was a good way to end the contract.”

Lemminger feels like his strong performance against Jackson shows that his move to being a fulltime fighter has been paying off.

“I think I’m the best I’ve been,” said Lemminger. “A few years ago I was able to quit my job and just fight, and I think that was a game changer for me.

“Now I wake up in the morning and I’m able to do the workouts, take a couple hours break, get some energy back, and then go back and train at the gym with the rest of my teammates. To me that has made the big difference. I am leaps and bounds ahead of what I was three, four years ago.”

On September 18 in San Jose, California, Lemminger (12-3) will look to build a winning streak when he faces off against Neiman Gracie (10-2) in the 170-pound co-main event of Bellator 266.

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“I think anyone that fights him is going to have the same game plan,” Lemminger said of Gracie. “They’re going to try to keep him standing and beat him up that way.

“Honestly I feel comfortable no matter where the fight goes. We have pretty high level grapplers at my gym. I think I’m a little better of a grappler than I’ve shown in my fights. Obviously I’m going to try to beat him up on the feet, but if it goes to the mat I’m not going to be a fish out of water, I’m going to be pretty comfortable there as well.”

With a win over Gracie, Lemminger could find himself in a good position to make a run, but for now his focus is on September 18 and not what could come of the result of it.

“I’ve always been a one fight at a time type guy,” said Lemminger. “What I think this fight will do is put me into the Top 10, and that will just get me closer (to a title shot).

“Everyone’s goal is to have the belt, but if I’m being honest it’s one fight a time for me. You can go all the way back to when I was an amateur; I’ve never looked too far ahead. I want to focus on the task that’s right in front of me.”

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