Brian Moore aims a punch at his opponent
Brian Moore (right) fights in Russia this weekend
Venue: VTB Arena, Moscow, Russia Date: Saturday, 23 October
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC iPlayer from 17:00 BST

Brian Moore believes MMA promotions will reap the benefits of paying their fighters more generously.

Pay has become a hot topic in recent years, and before signing a multi-fight deal with Bellator in 2017 Moore was juggling a full-time job as a personal trainer with his MMA career.

Moore is 4-1 since penning that contract and is on a three-fight winning streak. “You look at my fights before, I’m a totally and utterly different animal,” Moore told BBC Sport.

“When I fought Daniel Weichel [in 2016] I got paid 10 times more than I did for any fight I had previously.

“I’m on five or six times more since that fight. They give you the opportunity to follow your dreams. My dream is to be world champion.

“I was never going to be a world champion doing this thing part-time.”

‘Probably a bit deranged’

Moore, 34, is fighting in Russia on Saturday. It is Bellator’s first event in Moscow and the fight card is headlined by MMA heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko.

Bellator goes to Dublin just two weeks after Moscow, but Moore – who hails from Wexford – insisted he could not turn down the challenge of fighting a Russian, Nikita Mikhailov, on his home turf.

“This one was unique,” he said.

“In the present, this is a great fight because I get to fight a Russian in Russia, doing something different than anyone else in my division.

“I’m fighting on Fedor’s retirement card. In the future, I can look back as an old man and say I flew to Russia by myself to fight a Russian and put him away. I’m doing this sport because I love it, but I’m also doing it because of the thrill.”

“I’m expecting it to be hostile and I’m looking forward to it,” he continued.

“The more they boo, the more they’re afraid of me knocking out their boy – and they should be.”

‘There’s no rhyme or reason to these rankings’

While Moore is content at Bellator, he is far from happy with the state of the bantamweight rankings.

Sergio Pettis reigns as the champion, with previous belt holder Juan Archuleta the top contender. It was confirmed this week Pettis would defend his title for the first time against newly re-signed former champion Kyoji Horiguchi.

Moore’s team-mate James Gallagher sits sixth in the rankings, but Moore dropped out of the top 10 because of inactivity.

With Sinead Kavanagh and Peter Queally set to contest a Bellator belt next month, Moore is confident he can fight his way into title contention like his SBG Ireland team-mates did.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to these rankings,” Moore said.

“After this my gameplan is to keep winning until they can’t ignore me, until I’m that champ.

“Ideally what I would love is for that bantamweight grand prix to go ahead in 2022. Maybe I’ll draw Sergio Pettis in the first round – that’d be a great start to 2022.”

He added: “I’m coming into my prime and I really feel I will be able to look back and say I was Bellator world champion. I really feel that’s in my future, my destiny.”

‘I can see a blood-and-guts war’

Mikhailov will fancy his chances against Moore, being the younger man and fighting on home soil. The 22-year-old is 6-1 in his pro career and is part of Emelianenko’s team, but is competing for the first time in Bellator and Moore thinks he could wilt under the pressure of a home debut.

Emelianenko’s team of prodigies also includes Bellator’s light-heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov, but Moore has been left unimpressed with what he has seen from Mikhailov.

“He’s a very mixed bag,” he said.

“For me there’s a lack of commitment there to his style. He has very little finishes on his record as a result. I know my game inside out. I’m always adding to it.”

“I can see myself knocking him out or submitting him,” he predicted.

“I can see myself in a blood-and-guts war. I can see it being over in two seconds. I’ve visualised it every which way.

“But I’ll have my hand raised, I can assure you of that. When I put my mindset to win, nothing gets in the way of that.”

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