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Colleen Schneider – The Newest Puzzle Facing Bellator’s Flyweights

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Colleen Schneider vs Paaluhi

The bad news is that Rebecca Ruth is out of Bellator 170. Word of an injury trickled through the stream of Bellator-arranged interviews that her opponent, Colleen Schneider, conducted on Tuesday.

The good news is that Schneider expects to remain on the card. At the time of writing, Bellator are working their way through a shortlist of potential opponents.

Less than two weeks away from the January 21 event, the situation is far from ideal for the fighter or the promoter. Given Schneider’s increasingly impressive performances over the past couple of years, it might not be ideal for whoever takes the fight either.

The 34-year-old is a verified handful. An awkward, rangy puzzle that has rarely been figured out by anyone other than top-level fighters. Credit to anyone who takes the Bellator 170 bout on short notice, because Schneider remains focused and unfazed.

“I found out a couple of days ago, but they didn’t want me to say anything yet,” Schneider told MMA Latest. “I know they’re looking for an opponent, and I know they’ll find someone. It’ll be fine, I’ll be able to get in there and fight somebody. I don’t care too much who it is, I just want a good fight.”

To date, Schneider has fought 17 times professionally over seven years. From Alaska to Utah; Tijuana to Tokyo; Mumbai to Chongqing; her career map reads like an atlas. In her first year as a pro, Schneider fought Liz Carmouche in Strikeforce. Since then promotions like Super Fight League, Invicta FC, Kunlun Fight and Pancrase have all been temporary stops along the way.

That experience, not only inside the cage, but travelling across the world to take fights — sometimes on short notice — makes taking a last minute opponent change a little easier to deal with.

More than that, Schneider’s constant focus is on becoming a better fighter as much as it is preparing for an individual opponent. Given how often she has taken fights on short notice herself, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“I’m usually the one on the other end of that because I am more than willing to take fights on last minute notice, and have many times flown half way across the world on a week’s notice to fight.

Colleen Schneider vs Raquel Paaluhi

Schneider baiting Pa‘aluhi

“I have definitely scouted Ruth and had watched tape on her and her fighting style so the matchup has been a part of the strategy in training, but regardless, everything that I have worked on in camp is still there and still part of my tool kit. I can still apply it, so whoever it ends up being it doesn’t bother me to not know now. Honestly, you could tell me I’m gonna get in the cage and not know who I’m going to fight until I get in there, and I’d be ok with that. I’ve got enough experience and I’ve fought enough that I can adapt to what I need to in the fight.”

The last time Schneider saw the cage doors close behind her was an unsuccessful attempt to win Invicta FC gold in May last year. Schneider challenged Tonya Evinger as a significant underdog, and through five gruelling rounds was unable to cause the upset. Evinger won by unanimous decision.

Defeat is something that Schneider believes she deals with well, a statement backed up by hard evidence.

Going into the Evinger bout, “the Thoroughbred” had embarked on a four-fight world tour that saw her win fights in China, Mexico, Japan and the United States. That impressive run came off the back of another Invicta defeat, to Irene Aldana in February 2015.

This time around, Schneider has an even better understanding of which fighters to draw inspiration from. One former UFC bantamweight champion particularly impressing off the back of the recent UFC 207 card.

“There can be a lot of pressure if you’ve not dealt with a loss and come back from that, as we’ve seen in the UFC just recently. Winning or losing doesn’t, for me personally, define who I am as a fighter. Either way I’m looking at what I did well, what I did wrong, and how I can get better every single time.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of growth in the past year, and there are things I did well in that last loss to Tonya Evinger. There are things I did well, and I’m proud about that fight and there are things where I know I could do differently and would, ya know would happily fight her again. It’s part of growing.

“I was actually hugely impressed with Dominick Cruz’s post fight presser after his loss to Cody Garbrandt. The way he looked at it and his attitude about fighting and about the loss, and it just seemed so level headed and reasonable and such an intelligent approach to it and it was nice to see that. I think I try and take some of that approach in the way I look at losses I’ve had as well.”

Since Bellator began making significant investment in their flyweight division in 2016, the focus has been on developing prospects. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Anastasia Yankova and Emily Ducote are but three of the exciting talents that seized the opportunity to shine over the past 12 months.

Fighting Schneider will be a completely different proposition for any of those fighters. Not only are they less experienced themselves, they have never faced anyone who can match Schneider’s own level of experience either.

The fighter is also tall for a bantamweight, let alone the 125 pound flyweight division. To make matters worse for prospective opponents, Schneider understands how to utilise those advantages.

“I think reach isn’t inherently an advantage. Some people are long and don’t fight long, but I think I fight well on the outside. I know how to use my reach well and at 125 when I fought at that weight before I feel very physically imposing, I feel very strong at that weight class.”

That is all part of the in-cage puzzle that Bellator opponents will be trying to figure out. Not that Schneider plans on letting her less experienced foes do so. The fighter’s sights are set firmly on making a statement on January 21. With so many new kids on the Bellator flyweight block, does being the more established commodity bring additional pressure?

“Not necessarily because I’m more experienced, but because my intention is to go in there and have that flyweight title. I want to go in there and have people watch this fight and go ‘holy crap yeah she needs to fight for the title, she needs to be in there, she deserves that shot’. I want my performance to say that. Ya know that pressure is on it, but more than anything I’ve just been out of the cage way too long and I love fighting and I’m excited. I feel excited to get in there and fight.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking either that the years Schneider has put in, or the miles she has travelled, are leading her to wind down her career. Bellator is a fresh opportunity, and one of the biggest of Schneider’s career.

The fighter made it clear that we’ve not seen the best of her yet, and those gloves will not be getting hung up until we have.

“I think there is so much more I have to grow in this sport, and so much more potential I have. I think I’m a far better fighter now than I was six months ago. Honestly this camp has been phenomenal and I’ve learned so much in this camp that it wasn’t just a matter of going in and grinding and getting in shape and getting the conditioning down. I’ve developed a lot, and I feel like if I got to the point where I stopped growing as a fighter then I would be done fighting. I mean that’s kinda how I look at anything that I do, if I’m not growing and learning and developing in what I’m doing then why the hell am I doing it?”

The list of remaining goals for Schneider seems clear. Reaching her absolute peak as a fighter, and wearing Bellator gold. It is expected that Bellator will introduce a flyweight championship some time in 2016. With an impressive performance January 21, Schneider would instantly become one of the promotion’s most credible contenders.

Colleen Schneider Pancrase

Schneider fighting in Pancrase in 2015

One other goal that remains semi-complete is fighting in Japan. In October 2015, Schneider travelled to Tokyo to fight Bryanna Fissori at Pancrase 270. The rich MMA history of both the promotion, and the country, were not lost on a fighter who was left with only one nagging disappointment. Soccer kicks.

“It was completely a bucket list opportunity for me and I got to go on the show that, I can’t think of the name of it? That Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo host, and Josh Barnett was on it with me. So I’m there with Bas and Josh who are Kings of Pancrase and talking about how I get to go there and fight for Pancrase so I was geeking out a little bit.

“But I love Tokyo and I love Japan. It’s an amazing country and city, and the experience over there is definitely different to fighting in the U.S. The crowd is very educated, they know what they’re watching and they appreciate subtleties, like subtleties in grappling and things that, ya know often when I’ve fought in the States people don’t really have that appreciation for it.

“They’re also very quiet which is quite, quite different. You hear everything, but just the whole experience of being in Japan and fighting over there it was such a cool thing that I was able to do it. The only thing I was disappointed about was that I really wanna fight with the PRIDE rules so maybe at some point I’ll get to go back to Japan and Soccer kick somebody.”

As I point out, Bellator have let fighters compete at RIZIN events in the past, so who knows, maybe we’ll get to see Schneider time the perfect Soccer kick some time soon.

“Oh yeah, that would be a dream come true.”

That trip to Japan was also notable for another reason. The fight kit that Schneider wore against Bryanna Fissori was intricately wonderful, and genuinely the best I have ever seen in all my years watching fights. Schneider’s unique outfits are custom made by DEFILA, the brainchild of Creative Director and founder Ila Erickson.

I can’t help but ask if something special is in store for Schneider’s Bellator debut. I’d be lying if I said that her excited answer didn’t warm my heart.

“I do, it’s gonna be awesome. Yes I have something very, very cool planned for my fight kit, but that’s as much as you’re gonna get right now, a little teaser.”

So we are left guessing, for January 21 and beyond. We are left guessing regarding an opponent, and how good Schneider is going to be with the improvements made since the Evinger fight last year.

That has really been the story of Schneider’s recent career, both in and out of the cage. Fans have never known where the fighter will pop up next. As for her opponents, they will know that feeling well too. Punches and kicks are thrown from angles that most fighters would be unable to find.

The only certainty is that whoever steps up to face Colleen Schneider on January 21 is in for one hell of a fight.

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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes

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Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.

 

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Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video

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Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193

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Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.

The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.

The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.

It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”

Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.

He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”

Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.

I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”

Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.

I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”

Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.

Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”

With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.

Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”

As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.

Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”

If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.

I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”

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