Zac George wanted into Bellator's first featherweight tournament so bad he almost learned another language.
The Team Quest product, who makes his Bellator debut Saturday against Wilson Reis in a featherweight tournament quarterfinal bout at Bellator 37, started learning Spanish in order to secure a spot in the tournament.
"That was an interesting time," George said Tuesday on Bloody Elbow Radio. "They called to get some information on some of our fighters and, whether or not this is the case, Matt Lindland came back and he had been told from whoever that they wanted Spanish-speaking fighters. Again, this could've been miscommunication on anybody's part, (but) I went out and got Rosetta Stone. I went and bought Rosetta Stone at the mall that night. That is a literal thing.
"So I went out and got it and started learning Spanish and I was like, 'I'm gonna call these guys up and I'm gonna be in this tournament,' but obviously it didn't end up happening. I've been wanting in for awhile. I like everything about it. I love the setup, I like how they put the tournament together. They push fights, they give you the season. I think it's an exciting program and I think this strategy is going to be very successful."
If you ask George to speak Spanish for you, though, sadly it's not going to happen.
"I gave up on it once I realized they already filled out the bracket," George said. "I don't remember too much of it."
George has been out of action since October 2009 due to a contract issue with Shine Fights and an injury. Despite the long layoff, George doesn't expect ring rust to be a factor after what he called "probably the best training camp I've had." Those are mighty big words from a fighter who is entering his 25th professional fight.
"I had injuries and things like that in the past," George said. "This is finally a training camp where I got through healthy. I feel great. I'm not just blowing smoke, I really do. It's the best preparation I've had for any fight."
The good preparation might help George get his mind off the fact a year of his prime career was wasted because of his contract with Shine Fights. He was scheduled to fight on the now-infamous May 15 show featuring Din Thomas and boxer Ricardo Mayorga that fell through at the last minute. Under a year-long contract with the promotion, George had no move and was forced into a long layoff.
"I was livid," he said. "I have a very good temper but I lost it that day, along with many others. It was bad. We were warming up and the guy comes up to us and says, 'Well, we don't have the money to pay the commission, but we have a suitcase full of money being flown up here,' which just, you know, sounds about as legitimate then as it does now."
George said the fighters were asked to sign a waiver to fight where they wouldn't be paid that night but would be paid in the future.
"The commissioner said, 'No, this ain't happening.'"
George said under no circumstance would he ever fight for Shine again after what he was put through there during his year-long contract. He said Shine off him a spot in its September lightweight tournament but he told them he'd only take the spot if they paid him the money he was owed in addition to paying him in advance for the tournament.
"Of course that didn't happen," he said.
The layoff, though, hasn't been all bad. Spending the extra time in the gym has helped reinvent George as a fighter.
"I'm coming into the biggest fight of my life off that year and a half," George said. "People say ring rust and things like that, but I'm not concerned about that at all. I'm an improved fighter in every aspect. The guy that Wilson's going to be fighting won't be someone he can get a ton from from tape."
When he meets Reis on Saturday, George is gunning for an interesting finish, one never seen before in the world of mixed martial arts.
"I'm going to knock him out and/or submit him," George said. "Maybe we'll see the first knockout submission. I wonder if they'd have a double bonus for that? Maybe a flying Boston crab. I think it's a very competitive bout, but I think it favors me. I'll catch him."