Shamar Bailey is ready for the step up in competition.

Shamar Bailey is inspired by his one-time coach, Junior dos Santos.

Bailey (Twitter: @ShamarBailey), a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 13, is on the verge of his third trip to the Octagon.  He’s set to face Danny Castillo at UFC 139 on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Bailey’s last outing paired him up with Evan Dunham, a fighter many considered to be a step up in competition.  Bailey suffered a decision loss.  Nonetheless, he held his own and was never in any danger of being finished.  The experience provided a confidence boost, but unlike fans who thought he would be outclassed, Bailey liked his chances against Dunham.

“I expected to win that fight,” Bailey told MMADieHards.com.  “A lot of people probably didn’t see it my way, but when Joe Silva presented me with the matchup I thought it was going to be a good fight for me.  I definitely found a lot of things I can get better at, but I liked to see how far we have come and where we are headed.”

Bailey met Dunham on Sept. 17 on a UFC Fight Night card.  Just two months later, he squares off against Castillo.

The Illinois native didn’t endure any injuries or physical bumps that needed time to heal in his bout against Dunham.  Able to return to the gym immediately, Bailey was also ready to return to the Octagon in a short period of time.

“I never stopped training after the Evan Dunham fight,” Bailey admitted.  “I was back in the gym the following Monday.  I got the call for this fight about 3 1/2 weeks ago, but really all I had to train for was a specific opponent.  I worked on my weaknesses and strengthened my strengths.”

While Integrated Fighting Academy in Indianapolis is home base to Bailey, he finds it beneficial to utilize other gyms and training partners.

During his training camp for Dunham, Bailey spent time with current UFC lightweight No. 1 contender Ben Henderson and recently retired Chris Lytle.  Unfortunately, there was not enough time during this camp, but Bailey made due with local resources.

“I work with a lot of different instructors outside that gym, as well,” Bailey said.  ”Chris retired after his last fight, and Ben was getting ready for (Clay) Guida, so I didn’t have the time with a four-week camp to fly out to Arizona this time.  I had to handle my business here in Indianapolis.”

Bailey admitted that while training for this bout he was motivated because Castillo possesses everything he likes in an opponent.

“I like to fight guys that come forward,” Bailey explained.  “I don’t like to chase guys around the Octagon.  I like fighting aggressive guys.  I’m looking forward to fighting another wrestler and getting into some good scrambles on the ground and exchanging some blows on the feet.”

Another factor the sends Bailey into his UFC 139 bout on a positive note is that his former coach is now the UFC heavyweight champion.

Dos Santos defeated Cain Velasquez at UFC on Fox last Saturday for the heavyweight title, and the victory brought joy to Bailey as he was a student under the Brazilian on the UFC reality show.  During the taping of the program dos Santos spoke to his team about becoming a champion and completing their goals.  Witnessing dos Santos’ dreams become a reality made Bailey a believer.

“It was good to see Junior do what we knew he could do,” Bailey said.  “He talked about it so much during the show.  The story he told on ‘Primetime’ was the exact story he told all of us on the show.  It’s amazing to see people come from nothing and achieve their goals.  It’s something that makes me work harder.”

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