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Countdown to Bellator 141 – A.J. Matthews 2.0



A.J. Matthews’ has a lot riding on his upcoming fight against Emiliano Sordi. Every fight is important to every fighter but Matthews, at 7-3 needs to show the MMA world what he is capable of and prove what he already knows-That he is right where he is supposed to be, doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing.

CW– How is your training going? Are you still at Blackline or did you make the move to Alliance MMA fulltime?

AJ– I never made the move to Alliance. I made an executive decision in my life. My manager wanted me to move. I understand the reasons. But I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been fighting for a while, I know my body, I know what I need to prepare, so I decided to stay local at Blackline with my family. The only thing I outsourced was my kick boxing coach, that’s Ed Buckley. He’s right here in Oceanside, so it’s not even really a drive. It’s crazy you know, because striking is my shit, that’s what people I think would say about me but I never really had a consistent striking coach, but I have that now and I just feel like that’s the water that my fighting plant needed.

CW– I know you started as a grappler with BJJ, but you obviously like to strike. You seem like a natural kick boxer to me, with 5 out of your 7 wins by KO. Do you think on the feet is where you’re most dangerous?

AJ– I would like to say that I’m well rounded but maybe my record would say otherwise. That’s the thing about it, is people fall asleep too fast when I fight them, I put them to sleep too fast, so that I don’t even get a chance to grapple.

CW– You’ve bounced back and forth from welter and middleweights with most of time at middle. Your last fight was at 185 and you looked good there. Is this weight division going to be your home from now on?

AJ– I feel great at 185 pounds. The real reason for the move was when I was going down to 170 pounds I was losing so much mass around my shoulders and then I had two shoulder operations. When I was training for fights, literally every single day a shoulder would come out. At the point, it was to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped training. I didn’t want to fight. But you realize what you’re put on the planet for and I told my manager, “Give me a fight. Let’s do it 185.” My shoulder has not come out since I made that decision. So I’ll be a 185 because I don’t want my shoulder to come out man.

CW– You sparred with Brandon Vera for his Shogun fight. That had to be a confidence builder that he asked you to do that but also a humbling experience to be in there with a “next level” type fighter?

AJ– Alliance has big guys and little guys, and I was just this welterweight but I’m kick boxer and I’m crazy so I volunteered to spare with him because he is an idol mine, and I knew I could give him that look. You can ask anybody, when Brandon and I were sparring everyone would just stop what they were doing and come over to watch us. I tried to kill that motherfucker. But that led to me sparring with Phil Davis. I sparred with Al Gustafsson when he was getting ready for Shogun. I’ve sparred with all the biggest guys and the only thing I can say about that is, “Ask them how I did.” I think people might not believe it if I said did well so I can just say ask them.

CW—Depending on where you look, Emiliano Sordi is ranked 64 with all 13 wins by finish. You’re ranked 269. This is a big jump in competition for you. It’s a real opportunity.

AJ– He’s ranked higher than me? Where do you guys find the stuff? Ha ha, I’m just kidding. Absolutely, this fight is so important. This is my chance to let the world know that I’m as good as my close family and friends and my training partners know that I am. And if that’s got to be on Sordi’s head that I show that, no hard feelings, that’s how it’s going to be. He signed the contract.

CW– Sordi’s cardio seems like it’s an issue to me. Have you and your coaches noticed the same thing?

AJ—Yeah, absolutely. He would be dumb and his coaches would be dumb if they think he can fight me if he comes in there out of shape. So even though we’ve noticed that I’m not expecting it to be an issue. I’m expecting him to hit hard all three rounds. And I fucking hope so. I want a fight.

CW– You’re good up against the cage whether you’re pressing your opponent or if you’re backed up against it and that seems to be where he is going to try and take the fight, looking to get you up against the cage.

AJ—Ah, thanks, I appreciate you saying that. That’s a compliment for a skill not a lot of people catch. God, my team consists of Jason Lambert, and Joey Beltran. These are guys that invented that kind of fighting beating guys up the cage. So if someone wants to go up against the cage in the clinch with me, homey I’m down.

CW—Where do you think your advantage is?

AJ– My clear advantage in this fight is just mixed martial arts altogether. I’m just kidding, man. I’m just saying if he thinks he can have an advantage on the ground he’s going to be surprised. I think everyone will be surprised.

CW—Last Question. What do you want people to know about A.J. Matthews?

AJ– I don’t know man… Well…I’m sober now. Nobody knows this but I’m a drunk. This is the first training camp of I’ve ever went into where I’m physically fit and mentally stable. Not fat ,sloppy and drunk. So I’m excited for everyone to see that, and it’s just changed the whole composition of my life. I’m taking ballroom dancing classes; I started playing the ukulele, reading books. I’m training and I’m just happy. I’m so much more AJ Matthews then I ever was before. Now I’m really going have the chance show everyone what I can do.

At Bellator 141 A.J. “The Mercenary” Matthews is going to have his chance to show the world what he can do. He thinks the changes in his training and personal life are just the recipe to serve up the kind of dish he is capable of. He has a lot of high-level training partners supporting him in that effort that agree. Matthews has always been an exciting fighter, and no fan of the sport should miss the unveiling of this new and improved version of The Mercenary Friday Aug. 28th.

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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes



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



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



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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