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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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Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.

Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.

‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”

Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.

Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?

Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.

Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?

Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.

There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.

Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?

I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.

Credit – michaelpagemvp – Instagram

Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?

The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.

Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?

Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.

You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.

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Exclusive: Andrey Koreshkov eyeing fight with Rory MacDonald

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Former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov is coming off of an interesting past two years. In 2015 he beat current welterweight champion Douglas Lima, via a dominant unanimous decision, in order to win the welterweight title. He returned in 2016 and beat former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson via another dominant beatdown. It seemed like Koreshkov was going to be the champion for a very long time, making elite fighters look like they had no business being in the cage with him.

Koreshkov’s world came crashing down one night in Isreal. The Russian was beating Douglas Lima in a rematch, he was up 20-18 on the score-cards, and it seemed like he was going to walk away with another successful title defense. Koreshkov forced Lima’s back against the fence and started winging punches at him, Lima started to do the same as he looked to get off the fence, and then it happened, a huge left hook caught Koreshkov on the chin and it was lights-out. Lima was once again champion, and Koreshkov’s reign was cut short.

What was next for Koreshkov after losing the title? Perhaps a move to middleweight? Bellator’s middleweight division has fewer contenders than the welterweight division and could promise a quicker path to the title for the Russian. Koreshkov is a big welterweight, standing at 6’1, he certainly wouldn’t be small in the higher weight class. Speaking to MMA Latest, Koreshkov was quick to shut down the idea of moving up. “No, no, I work hard at welterweight and I’d like to stay there.”

Sticking with welterweight, Koreshkov knew it was going to be tough to get another title shot after his fight with Chidi Njokuani, but he seems to know the key to fighting for the title “It’s not about how many wins, but rather, the quality of my wins”, with that in mind, he promised the gameplan against Njokuani was to “stand and bang”. Koreshkov fulfilled his promise, against Njokuani he came out guns-blazing, giving Njokuani all he could handle on the feet before eventually taking him down and finishing him with some nasty ground and pound.

Koreshkov also got the chance to explain who he’d like to fight next, should he not get a title shot. “I don’t have any favorites, I know that there are a lot of tough fights at my weight class, but if I had to choose, I would say Rory MacDonald.” Unfortunately for Koreshkov, MacDonald is booked against his former opponent Douglas Lima, as the two are set to fight for the Bellator welterweight title in January.

A fight against MacDonald would promise fireworks as the two are known for their ruthless style. There’s a strong chance Koreshkov may get his chance against MacDonald next, as the former champion is certainly either next in line for the shot, or set to fight the loser.

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James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury

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Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.

The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016.  James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.

After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.

Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.

Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”

His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.

 

 

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