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Countdown to Bellator 141: Preview

Vinny Craig

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Bellator returns to action on another Friday night. 6 weeks ago we saw the Welterweight title change hands when Andrey Koreshkov beat Douglas Lima. After being guaranteed his release from WSOF, Melvin Guillard was put right into a headlining bout where he will face Brandon Girtz. Let’s see what the rest of the main card looks like!

Rapheal Butler vs. Lorenzo Hood

In the Heavyweight division we have a solid bout between Rapheal Butler (9-1-1 MMA: 4-1-1 BMMA) and Lorenzo Hood (9-2; 0-0). Both guys are always looking for the finish as all 18 of their career wins have come by stoppage with all but one being in the first round.

Butler is a 6 fight Bellator veteran with 4 wins. He made his promotional debut at Bellator 96 with a first round TKO win over Jeremiah O’Neal. After two more first round finishes he had a memorable fight against Nick Rosborrough where the fight ended in a draw at Bellator 119. After that he was handed his first career loss when he was was stopped by a Rear-Naked choke at Bellator 125. He last saw action in February where he got back to the winning column with a first round Standing Guillotine against Josh Diekman.

Hood is making his Bellator debut. He is currently on a three fight win streak and has won 5 of his last 6. The Chicago based fighter has seen all of his fights end in the first round, with all 9 of wins being from strikes. He last fought for Maxximo Fighting Championship in December. As the co-main event, he won his fight via Slam KO.

Justin Wren vs. Josh Burns

JUSTIN WREN IS BACK.. Sorry, got kind of excited. In a Heavyweight match up we have Justin Wren (10-2; 0-0) and Josh Burns (8-8; 0-2). Between the two we have 28 Heavyweight fights , a ton of experience for this division in Bellator.

Wren is a former Ultimate Fighter contestant on Season 10. He was a part of a controversial two round decision with eventual show winner Roy Nelson where many thought the fight should have gone a third round. His only UFC fight came at the Finale in which he lost by Split-decision to Jon Madsen. He won his next three after the UFC with two finishes. His last fight was in 2010 where he had a series of injuries keep him out. He will make his Bellator debut and has signed a five fight deal.

Burns has fallen on tough times. The Dearborn, Michigan based fighter (Michigan represent) has yet to win a Bellator fight in two chances. ‘The Hammer’ is 2-5 in his last 7 with all of those fights ending in a finish. He has clear finishing ability with 5 KO/TKO wins in his career. This fight could be do-or-die for the Michigan Top Team product.

Patricky Freire vs. Saad Awad

A Lightweight fight comes in as your co-main event as Patricky Friere (13-6; 6-4) and Saad Awad (18-6; 6-3) meet in the cage. Both are contenders who will look to move themselves up to get a shot at Lightweight champion Will Brooks. Both are former Lightweight Tournament finalists with neither winning the Tournament.

Freire is the brother of current Featherweight champion Patricio Freire. He last fought in a Lightweight tournament final where he lost to the next title challenger in Marcin Held. That was the second time he has made it to the final with the first being on Season 4. He is 3-1 in his last four with wins over Edson Berto, David Rickels (LW Tournament Quarterfinal) and Derek Campos (LW Tournament Semi-Final). It will be his first fight in 2015.

Awad was a finalist on Season 8 for the Lightweight tournament. He is 10-2 in his last twelve with losses coming from David Rickels (Season 8 Lightweight tournament final) and now Lightweight champion Will Brooks (Season 9 Lightweight tournament Semifinals). He has three wins in a row coming into this fight with a first round TKO over Joe Duarte at Bellator 122. A win here could earn him a title shot or number-one contender fight.

Melvin Guillard vs. Brandon Girtz

The main event is one you wouldn’t have seen coming not too long ago. Melvin Guillard (32-14-2, 2 NC, 0-0) and Brandon Girtz (11-4; 4-2) meet in the Lightweight division. The path for Guillard was different after he was released by the UFC. This is a new common theme for Bellator to have a non-title fight as the main event.

Guillard signed with WSOF after being released from the UFC in March, 2014 and was signed by WSOF less than a month later. He had one fight where he got a TKO win and was put into a Lightweight title fight with Justin Gaethje. He missed weight and the fight was changed to a catchweight bout. He would lose the fight and asked for his release from the organization. He was granted his release and subsequently signed with Bellator. He is making his debut at this event.

Girtz last fought at Bellator 126 where he picked up a TKO win. He is 3-1 in his last four with two Armbar wins. He has missed weight on multiple occasions and has had catchweight bouts. Overall he has been successful in Bellator, but has yet to see success long term.

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Bellator

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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