HONOLULU – Keoni Diggs remembers sitting in front of his television audibly rooting for an unfamiliar Hawaiian fighter who marched down Aviv Gozali on the Bellator 274 prelims.
Bobby King picked up the win by TKO that night and Diggs (9-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) was pleased to see his fellow Islander win. Little did he know, but Diggs’ next opponent would be King. The two lightweights square off Friday at Bellator 279 – in front of a Hawaiian crowd.
“I’m screaming at the screen, ‘Let’s go, Hawaiian,’ when I heard everyone had him as a big underdog,” Diggs told MMA Junkie at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “We’re always going to root for the home team guys. I never thought I’d be fighting him on the next one. But hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do sometimes. That’s why it’s super funny, because I was legit rooting for him at that 274 card. I won’t be rooting for him on Saturday, though.”
Diggs, 35, is on the heels of his first professional loss, a split decision to former Bellator title challenger Daniel Weichel in June 2022. The fight was his first at featherweight, so it was a big learning experience all around.
“I need to be more tactical in my approach,” Diggs said. “There were some traps set in that fight that I kind of just went into straight forward. Put your toes down and just swing, you know what I mean? Try to catch him with some big shots, because I knew I probably lost that first round. It’s all a learning experience. That was probably one of the best guys I’ve fought to date.”
Bellator 279 takes place Saturday at Neal S. Blaisdell Center with the main card airing on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.