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Countdown to Bellator 141: Derek Anderson – “I Got Hands Like Tyson”

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Derek “The Barbaric” Anderson (12-1-1) is looking to make a name for himself. Eleven of his twelve wins have come by finish against some of the best lightweights Bellator has to offer. He knocked out Brandon Girtz, who is headlining the Bellator 141 card at 23 seconds of the second round with a vicious, perfectly placed knee, so he doesn’t understand why his fight is so far down the card. He is hoping a decisive finish of Brent Primus will finally bring him the recognition he deserves. I recently had a chance to talk to Derek about his career and his upcoming fight against Primus.

CW– You’re obviously a well-rounded fighter. Good stand up and good ground game. 11 of your 12 wins by finish, pretty equally divided between knockouts and submissions. How’s your training camp been going for this fight? Anything in particular you’ve been working on?

DA– I’ve just been training like I normally do, maybe going a little harder than normal. I’m more of a Muay Thai fighter. Ya know, my hands are just so freaking good now. My hands deliver a little more of the output than my kicks right now but those are pretty good too. I’ve been working a lot on my ground game, lots of jujitsu. I have been doing some offensive wrestling too. I haven’t done too much of that because I’m always looking to stand on my feet, but I’ve got a nasty double leg. If you’re over 200 pounds I can still bring you down. I’m just becoming more and more well rounded altogether.

CW– I noticed watching some of your older fights that you’re pretty good at getting into dominate positions, threatening with a submission and then using those opening to get the mount. It that a particular style trait or has it just kind of worked out that way?

DA– It just seems to work out that way. I don’t I think too much during the fight, it just kind happens. Maybe I’ll beat him up one way but if something opens up I’ll beat him up a different way.

CW– You’ve got some creative striking. I was impressed with the spinning back fist followed by the spinning kick, which you go both to the head and body with.

DA—Yeah, I work on it but I don’t train it too much because I know it catches people off guard and I don’t want to knock my training partners out. I’m pretty good with my distancing so I think I can throw a lot of stuff. I like to be flashy, just like everyone else. I’m just realizing with my hands, I got hands like Tyson. So I want to use them and set up opportunities to use them anyway I can.

CW– During the Marcin Held fight the commentators said that you were kind of disrespectful of Held’s grappling skills and that you weren’t worried about getting caught in his leg lock. They said that you thought he was one-dimensional in that regard. Was there a little bit of pride there? I mean did you want to prove that you could handle an elite grappler at his own game, which led to you fighting his fight instead of yours?

DA– It was just kind of the way happened. The first round he was going for the ankle and I was pounding him pretty good. I thought I might knock him out. I love the ground and pound. Ya know, you’re still punching so if he’s got a hold of my leg but I’m punching him, I’m okay with that. That second round, when he pulled guard, before he got me in that triangle, I thought, “If he wants to go to the ground, I can do that. I’ll just lay some more ground and pound on him.” Now when I’m down there I’m trying to land blows and knock people out. I’m not trying to hold them or score points. I’m trying to finish the fight. It’s a fight. If you’re on the street you don’t try and hold somebody down, you try and finish it.

CW—In your last fight against Navarro you seemed to show some improved striking.

DA– Oh yeah, I think I’m constantly evolving and getting better. I actually think I could’ve done a little better in that fight. I think I was kind of maybe hurt from the cut a little, because I was leaning back a little more than I wanted to. He got lucky to make it into the third.

CW– I thought Herb Dean could have ended that fight about 2 minutes into the third when you landed that first, hard right hook. Were you thinking, “Man what do I have to do to put this guy away?”

DA—Yeah, Navarro is a tough kid and he kept coming. He was ready. But I’m a fighter. I love to fight. I was just thinking, “OK just keep beating him up.” Now, I can pour it on when it’s time for sure, but I nailed him and I’ve been taught to be patient fighter so that’s what I did and it worked out.

CW– You’ve got an impressive record and you’re pretty far down the card. Do you feel like you’re being overlooked a little bit?

DA– Oh yeah for sure man. Ha ha. I’ve been saying the same thing for a little while now. I don’t know what the deal is, but it is what it is. So I’m just going to have to knock him out and hope next time they put me a TV.

CW—What are your thoughts on Brent Primus and the your upcoming fight against him?

DA– If he wants to try and keep it on the feet, it is going to be a long, bad night for him. Even on the ground, I don’t care who you are, I know what’s up, and I don’t care about a black belt. I made a mistake with Marcin. I barely even trained jiu-jitsu for that fight. I just responded and I did pretty well until that triangle at the end there. I feel like I had a moral victory over him, just surviving the leg lock and then I was just like, “oh shit a triangle,” you know, I wasn’t even thinking about it. So I feel like I’m a little more prepared this time you know. If he wants to go to ground, which, I’m sure he is going want to go to the ground, because he won’t be able to mess with my striking, I’m ready for it. But in striking there’s no one in the division that can mess with me.

CW– What do you want people to know about Derek Anderson?

DA– If you don’t know my name yet, you’re going to pretty soon. If you want to get ahead of the game start being a fan now. One day I’m going to be champion of the world.

CW—Thanks Derek.

DA—Anytime man.

Derek Anderson is a fluid striker and tons of fun to watch. He feels like he has something to prove and sees this fight as his chance to do just that. Be sure not to miss Anderson against Brent Primus at Bellator 141. It’s a guaranteed exciting fight that will undoubtedly end in a finish.

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Bellator: Selecting the Four Alternates for the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

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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

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

Alternate Final:

  • 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!

Fighter bios:

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:

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)

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Exclusive: Hisaki Kato: “My priorities are in MMA”

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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.”

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Exclusive: Fernando Gonzalez talks Paul Daley and Michael Page fights

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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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