On July 17th, Bellator 140 will host a series of 5 welterweight bouts on the main card to determine who gets the next shot at the title. Chris Honeycutt is set to take part in a night filled with title implications by facing Paul Bradley in the co main event on Spike.
As he prepares for his biggest fight yet, I spoke with a highly confident, and relaxed Honeycutt:
MMALatest News: First off, congratulations on making the co main event headline!
“Yeah, that’s awesome! I’m pretty stoked for that.”
Chris, I have to ask you, as a fellow California native, how have you been liking it out here?
I like California! I mean it’s hard that it’s far away from my home. My girlfriend moved out here, and I met her in college in Pennsylvania, and we lived about 10 miles away from Edinboro, so it’s the first time she’s moved far away from home, so it’s hard on her. But other then being away from our families, through thousands of miles, I love it out here! Weather is nice and I do not miss it… no, by any means. I will sit outside with my shirt off in 60 degrees, 40 degree weather because I’m used to being in -10, or – 20 with 3 feet of snow.
How has preparation been in your camp?
“Oh this camp has been the best camp yet! My weight has never been so under control and my body is really, really adapting. And it’s just been getting super, super hard. I mean my cardio, for the most part, (preparation has been) cardio camp, so I mean, as far as my conditioning goes, I am ready. I can probably fight a title fight right now. And now that my camp is over and I’ve had a couple of days to let my body heal a little bit, I’ve been looking really sharp.
“Then the real question is: “How long will I have the belt?” “Am I going to go a whole decade, or am I going to go for 5 years?””
Great, and speaking of your camp: Whats the atmosphere been like at the gym when it was announced that Josh Koscheck got signed?
“That’s great. I’m happy for Josh! He’s obviously is coming to Bellator. It’s like perfect timing right? I’m thankful that I came to Bellator, I mean that’s awesome! I’m glad they gave me the opportunity and I’m very happy to be with Bellator, and you know it’s good to have Koscheck in the same camp. He’s not in camp right now, so he’s a coach to me. When he’s in camp, we’re kind of like teammates. Actually, I’m the only person in camp that was next for a fight, so I had the whole gym totally behind me on all my needs. They were all fresh bodies, and they were all rotating on me, so you know it was a hard camp, but it’s necessary for the possibilities that (could) go down Friday.”
Koscheck stated in an interview that he watches his and your career closely. What does that mean to you?
Well, we kind of have that relationship. I didn’t know Josh from college, but we both had Tim Flynn as our college wrestling coach.He has the same work ethic, and the mentality of how you bring success; and we got that through the same coach. So we both have the same outlook on what it takes. That’s what drives me.
He did all the hard work. I’m basically skipping steps because he already put in all the work, and I just take what he says, and I run with it. In between him and my boxing coach Marcos, my muay thai coach, and my teamates… we’re all getting better from one another. We’re all going to excel as a gym, but yeah, having Josh go out in an interview and say “I focus on his career and mine,” I care just as much about his career as I do mine. It means a lot.
The entire card on July 17th is lined up with top welterweights, and you being in the co-main event, do you feel that with a win you’re next in line for a title shot?
Yeah, I’m not gonna assume anything, but my personal opinion: I think it depends on performance. You know if it’s a dog fight and it goes back and fourth, and when I win either by tko or decision, you know it’s all about the performance. If I got out there and just totally smash him and I do what I plan on doing; then why wouldn’t I get a title shot? But at the same time, I’m not thinking about that. I’ll let my managers and Scott Coker decide if it’s my time (now,) or if it’s my next fight, or the one after, or the one after that. All I know is eventually I’ll have it, and I’ll have the belt.Then the real question is: “How long will I have the belt?” Am I gonna go a whole decade, or am I gonna go 5 years? I can see how people say I get the title shot, just because if it wasn’t for the title fight in this event, I would be the main event. I’m just gonna go out there, and win my fight, and make it obviously known that I deserve that title shot. And if it’s not this next one, then it’s the one after.
What were your thoughts on Paul Bradley’s performance at Bellator 129?
I watch film, so I could get a good visual of who I’ll be facing. I try not to think too much about what their going to do. I think what am I going to do. I’m trying to remember if I already watched his last fight or not. Do you remember who he fought last?
It was Josh Neer.
So didn’t he take him down, and just hold him down? And didn’t he end up grinding him out?
I believe it was a unanimous decision win.
Yeah, he just held him down the whole time. And why wouldn’t Paul do that if Neer won’t put the effort to stand up? because he’s wanting to try and play the jiu jitsu game. A lot of jiu jitsu people fall into that. They’re comfortable being on their back because that’s what jiu jitsu is, but in a fight when you’re on your back, you’re losing. You should be trying to get up, or reverse, or something.
There’s really not much to learn from that except that Paul doesn’t really put himself out there to beat you up. He only tends to punch you when you’re trying to get up. He fought at Bellator 129 you said? He’s had a longer break, so I have the advantage. My last fight was more recent.
Do you feel nervous not fighting in your adopted home town?
If anything I’m going to feel like I’m even more at home! I spent two years on the west side of Boston in North Andover, which is only about an hour and 20 minutes away from the Mohegan Sun. For two of my four years of high school I was in Cleveland. And I spent 5 years in Pennsylvania which is 5 or 6 hours away (from Mohegan sun.) So I have hundreds of people coming to watch me fight. I’m going to feel more at home there.
Obviously Fresno is my home now. This is where the setting stone of my mixed martial arts career started. Fresno has opened up to me with open arms and they support me, but I have big roots back east. I look forward to putting on a great show for all my friends, family and fans; and I’m just looking forward to it. So no.
Last question: Who do you thinks going to win between champion D. Lima and A. Koreshkov?
I have no idea, I just hope I can get in the back and put my four piece suit on before it starts, so I can watch it. I’ll tell you what though, I’ll be DVR-ing this card on my TV. What a learning experience. I could just go back and watch my weight class drill and drill. I’ll be able to really pin point my performance amongst everyone else. It’ll be a confidence booster.
I want to give a special thanks to Chris Honeycutt for speaking with us. You can follow him on twitter @ChrisTheCutt
Bellator: Selecting the Four Alternates for the Heavyweight Grand Prix.
With an 8-man tournament bracket full of legends and former champions, join us as we chose four alternates for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Main Tournament Participants:
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Frank Mir
- Chael Sonnen
- Quinton Jackson
- Roy Nelson
- Matt Mitrione
- Ryan Bader
- King Mo Lawal
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 28, 2017
The alternate tournament bracket will consist of: two opening round fights (semi-final), and then two victorious fighters competing against one another at the finale (final). This will determine a worthy contender to step into the main tournament bracket, in case any of the main bracket fighters are injured in their semi-final bouts.
If a pull-out or injury occurs before the opening bouts, I believe Bellator have to select the most decorated fighter, and a natural heavyweight fighter. So in case of a pull-out occurring before the opening round, I would select my #1 alternate, and so on for any more opening pull-outs.
This structure covers all bases, and keeps the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament intense and prestigious.
So with the structure laid out, here is our selected alternate fighters.
- #1: Vitaly Minakov
- #2: Linton Vassell
- #3: Attilah Vegh
- #4: Emanuel Newton
Alternate Opening Round [Semi-Final]:
- Bout 1: #1 Vs. #3
- Bout 2: #2 Vs. #4
- Victor of Bout #1/#3 Vs. Victor of Bout #2 Vs. #4
Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton would be a trilogy that needs to be completed. Linton dominated on the ground for the most part of their first bout, but felt he gave up positions he felt he could have held longer, and took needless transitions and risks; allowing for a very sneaky Emanuel Newton to escape the clutches of ‘The Swarm’, and when the gas tank begins to empty – a scrambling Emanuel Newton is not what you want!
Vitaly Minakov: A former Bellator tournament winner, and former Bellator heavyweight champion. A Judo black belt, and multi time Sambo world champion, there’s no denying this man’s resume as one of the best put forth out of these 4 fighters.
Linton Vassell: A man who really lives up to the moniker – ‘The Swarm’, Linton Vassell has dominated and dispatched various opponents Bellator have put across from him. Having fallen short in two title fights, and a close decision loss to King Mo, Linton has shown that he’s there with the best Bellator has to offer, maybe the Heavyweight Grand Prix might see the dark-horse finally come into the lime-light! Currently contracted to Bellator with a 7-3 record for the promotion.
If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:
@BellatorMMA @ScottCoker I want in on this World Grand Prix, anyone gets hurt or injured I want in, I want to be that alternant. Plus I got some unfinished business to attend to. #cantstopwontstop pic.twitter.com/zHtpMzHcya
— Linton Vassell (@LDV_TheSwarm) November 19, 2017
Emanuel Newton: Already holding two victories over King Mo, who’s allocated in this Heavyweight main tournament bracket – that alone is just cause to enter Emanuel. An exciting and unpredictable entry this would be. Bellator parted ways with Emanuel in 2016. Currently, Newton is not on the best of runs, but this tournament needs a ‘wild-card’, and Emanuel owns that title.
Attilah Vegh: A former Bellator LHW champion. Not currently signed to Bellator. Was strangely released in 2014 after having a record of 5-1 with the promotion, and some victories over some very reputable names. Currently on a 2 fight win-streak outside of Bellator MMA.
If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:
Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)
Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)
Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)
Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)
Exclusive: Hisaki Kato: “My priorities are in MMA”
French-Japanese middleweight Hasaki Kato returns to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on former welterweight Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani. Ahead of the high-level striking match-up, Kato took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with MMA Latest.
Rangy striker Njokuani makes his middleweight debut Friday as he looks to erase his loss to Andrey Koreshkov from recent memory. It isn’t lost on Kato just how tall and lanky the 6’3 striker truly is. “Well he’s very tall,” Kato tells MMA Latest. “He was a welterweight but even for a middleweight he’s really tall he’s like 6’2, 6’3 taller than me, longer reach than me. Obviously, I was watching his fights, he’s fighting with range and using his reach to fight so that’s his number one weapon.”
In Njokuani’s last fight, Koreshkov, the former welterweight champion, held Njokuani down and elbowed him until the ref stepped in. So what exactly went wrong in the fight? “Well, first I think Koreshkov is really, really strong,” Kato explains. “Chidi Njokuani normally escapes the ground part or at least he’s on top of his opponent. But Koreshkov has good pressure and good grappling and he could take the top position. Obviously, Njokuani is not comfortable when he is on the bottom. So yeah, I think he couldn’t play his game during the last fight because Koreshkov was putting too much pressure on him.”
Former UFC fighter, Gegard Mousasi, recently made his debut against Alexander Shlemenko back in October. The Dutchman had a tough debut that resulted in a controversial decision win, Kato weighed in on whether or not he’s eyeing a fight with him and what he thought of his Bellator debut. “If I have an offer I will fight him,” he says without any particular enthusiasm. “I will fight everybody in the division. Yeah, for the last fight, well, I think luckily for him it was a three-round fight. I think if it was a five round fight the victory would have gone to Shlemenko. I don’t know maybe he had a bad camp, I don’t know but he was doing terrible.”
Kato also believes a title shot isn’t far away. “I believe I’m really close to that (a title shot),” he says. “After the win, after the Gracie fight, even if it was a decision win, the Gracie is a big family name so I was expecting a title fight. I didn’t have it so I guess if I win this time I have a good chance to have it.”
Whatever you do, don’t expect to see Kato back in a kickboxing ring anytime soon. Does it interest him to return? “Not really,” Kato replies after giving the question some thought. “If the offer is good then why not, for now, I feel more comfortable in MMA so my focus, my priorities, are in MMA.”
Many fans were very disappointed with the way his last fight turned out. Paired up against jiu-jitsu fighter, Ralek Gracie, Kato ended up going to the judges for the first time in his career. “Yeah the fight itself was really frustrating,” Kato admits. “I couldn’t do what I wanted and after two rounds, I knew I had done enough to win, and I knew he would push more. So I decided ‘yeah ok then it’s going to a decision’ but at the very least I had to win that fight. That’s why I didn’t take too many risks in the third round. During the first and the second, I really wanted to end that fight like I always try but I couldn’t do it.”
So why hasn’t Kato fought since January? “I had an offer in September,” he says. “But I got injured during the training and had to go into surgery, and after the surgery, the process is really long to recover so that’s why.”
So what does Kato predict for the fight? “Obviously his nickname is ‘Bang’ you know, he likes to fight and that’s all I like doing too,” Kato laughs. “I’m really thinking about having a big knockout with my hands.”
Exclusive: Fernando Gonzalez talks Paul Daley and Michael Page fights
Long-time Bellator welterweight contender, Fernando Gonzalez, has made a career out of fighting the best fighters his promotion had to offer. The always tough Californian has displayed this willingness to fight the best when he took on Paul Daley in a kickboxing match and when he took on Michael ‘Venom’ Page, in what was supposed to be Page’s coming out fight.
The kickboxing match with Daley happened back in 2015 at “Bellator MMA and Glory: Dynamite 1” in an event that featured both Glory kickboxing as well as its fair share of intriguing Bellator MMA fights. Gonzalez would go on to lose the fight in what many fans called a ‘lackluster’ contest. Speaking to MMA Latest, Gonzalez was asked if he had any interest in returning to the kickboxing ring and why he participated in Glory kickboxing.
“No. Honestly, that kickboxing match was more just to get Daley; because they kept trying to give him to me on short notice and one was on an injury,” Gonzalez told MMA Latest. “So I was like, ‘no I don’t want to give him an easy win’, but the only thing they came up with was that kickboxing match in that time. So ever since that fight, I was like ‘listen dude lets do this MMA’. I’m an MMA guy, I know how to kickbox and I’m good with it but I prefer MMA. I love doing MMA. I don’t like to have too many rules put on me. I like being able to go out there and flow freely. Honestly, I want Daley in an MMA fight so he gets the real fight.”
Gonzalez’ fight with Michael Page was booked as the veteran getting fed to the younger up and coming contender. The fight was Page’s opportunity to add another highlight reel knockout to his collection. Obviously, someone forgot to tell Gonzalez. Gonzalez went out and made sure he never gave Page any openings, unfortunately, he would go on to lose the fight by split decision. Fernando explains what went wrong in his only Bellator loss.
“Honestly the only thing that went wrong in the fight is how people viewed the fight”, Gonzalez explains. “If you really look at the fight he really didn’t land anything. The whole first round they’re talking him up, how he’s dancing and how it’s putting me into a lullaby and this and that. I was never in danger. He was not throwing a single punch. This is MMA, you cant just take on the fight with one style, you have to fight different styles for different people. If it was just boxing, you would fight a boxer just one way realistically, but Michael Page has the karate style. So you have to come up with a different formula if you’re going to fight somebody like that.”
“So my style with him, I knew that he’s used to everybody rushing him and trying to take him down. I’m a striker so I don’t mind striking. If I’m not in danger then I’m going to keep it striking. So what I did was I circled, I kept him at arm’s length, so he constantly had to throw long arms where he’s having to reach out and grab you. He’s throwing those arms out, that makes him have to basically hold his arms out a lot longer than he’s used to. He’s used to guys rushing in on him. So with me playing that outside game, obviously my legs are a lot longer than my arms, so I had to throw a lot more kicks, there was a lot of head kicks to take away his power-punch where he leaps in. By doing that, that made him work a lot longer in the second and third round where he’s normally finishing guys. By that third round, he was completely exhausted and couldn’t throw. He said his timing was off and this and that, but he was just exhausted. I had already gassed him out and he had just enough to stay away from me.”
“Really it’s just how you see the fight. They automatically assumed I had to take him down to win and that’s not necessarily true. If I’m not in danger, and I’m landing kicks, and I’m landing good shots, and he’s hitting my arms. Realistically most of the shots he landed were on my arms and that really doesn’t count. So it’s really just how you see it and that’s why one judge had it 30-27. It’s just how you’re seeing the fight. If you’re a striker you would know what you’re looking at, but if you’re a ground guy, of course, you’re going to say ‘oh I got to get it to the ground’ which is what the commentators were; two ground guys talking about what I should’ve done.”
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