Hawaii’s Keoni Diggs embraces the ‘journey’ that has led him to Bellator 261 showdown against featherweight contender Daniel Weichel

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Keoni Diggs // Bellator MMA

Nine months after making a big splash in Bellator’s lightweight division, Hawaii’s Keoni Diggs makes his return this Friday at Bellator 261 on a mission to shake up the featherweight rankings in Connecticut.

The 34-year old from Wahiawa will be faced with the toughest test of his career meeting veteran Daniel Weichel (40-12), the sixth ranked 145-pounder in the organization who fought twice for the title in the last six years.

Diggs, who improved to 9-0 back in September with a third round submission victory over Derek Campos has since had to overcome injuries in training which forced the move to featherweight.

“Everything happens for a reason, had a little injury and a little setback, put me in a better place, a different weight class, a better weight class according to suiting my body. Everything happens for a reason,” Diggs told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “Tough veteran, good name, possibly get me in the rankings so everything happens for a reason. I was kind of down for a little bit but that was a real reason too why I kind of wanted to stay mentally engaged so that’s why we decided to drop down to feather(weight) for this one. Not saying I’m done with lightweight at all but just to stay mentally engaged and not really feel sorry for myself, just had some injuries that kind of snowballed. But now we’re here and four days away from doing my thing.”

Since making the move to 145-pounds, Diggs says he can feel an increase in speed for both his striking and wresting transition games providing added confidence in entering unfamiliar territory with a chance to make an immediate impact on the title picture with a victory.

“Whether it’s a ranked opponent or not, the next fight’s always your biggest one, that’s how my mind always is. I compartmentalize those things, to be honest it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is winning. His number, his ranking or what it could be in the future is, I’m 100 percent laser focused on Friday night. None of (the outside factors) matters to me at all,” said Diggs.

A seven year pro, Diggs has taken a long road to his current situation having moved to and from Hawaii numerous times while dealing with injuries and outside of the cage roadblocks, however, the journey is one that he appreciates and has been infatuated with for every twist and turn.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s all about the journey and the process. The older I get, I’m just enjoying the process and just stoked that I’m here doing this. Still a little surreal but at the end of the day, I’m just blessed to be doing what I’m doing right now and it’s all about the journey for sure. Definitely more stoked than all the hard times, all the bad times, all the times being broke and all the times working part-time jobs, all the times moving away from Hawaii and coming back and just the ups and downs of this whole thing. Fighting ain’t for everybody,” said Diggs. “Look at sportscasting. Sportscasting’s not an easy job, it’s not like, ‘Oh, I can be one sportscaster.’ You gotta pay your dues and it’s a lot of ups and downs and of course it just makes when you get to where you’re at and you’re still climbing, I’m still climbing and we’re just trying to get to where we’re at and you never know where we’re gonna end up but we just keep pushing forward, pushing forward and it definitely makes it a lot sweeter. You stop a little and think back on things like, wow.”

Bellator 261 at the Mohegan Sun is set for Friday at 3:00 pm HST on Showtime.

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