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Exclusive Interview: Emanuel Newton Ready to Impose His Will at Bellator 149

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Former Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton (25-9) is looking to get himself back into the title picture next Friday at Bellator 149. Coming off of back to back losses, he takes on a dangerous opponent in Linton Vassell (15-5), who he’s beaten previously.

Newton earned the Light Heavyweight belt in March of 2014 when he took on Attila Veigh in a rematch and went on to defend the title twice before losing a decision to Liam Geary. His last successful title defense was actually against Vassell, but it was not an easy fight and Emmanuel Newton is not taking his opponent lightly.

MMA Latest News caught up with The Hardcore Kid as he prepared for the February 19 bout.

Emanuel “The Hardcore Kid” Newton, how the hell are you man? How’s your weight? How you feeling?

It’s going good. Ready to get this on next Friday. And weight’s actually fine man, I got down to 209 last night right after practice. I ate real good yesterday and I’ll probably get a workout in and get something to eat right after I get off the phone with you. I’m feeling good.

Bellator seems to have really turned a corner now that Scott Coker is at the helm. How’s life in Bellator?

It’s going good man. Bellator’s always climbing, constantly getting better, signing new talent and always putting on amazing shows and keeping the fighters busy. I’m very excited to be a part of Bellator MMA.

“I really didn’t fight too much as a kid. I was never the kind of person that looks for trouble.” – Emanuel Newton

You have a very unorthodox style, you seem to thrive in times of adversity and rely on gritty toughness. Did you have to fight a lot as a kid? How did you get into martial arts?

I really didn’t fight too much as a kid. I was never the kind of person that looks for trouble. I’ve always been into martial arts. I did a little Kenpo when I was a kid and then you know, watched ninja turtles, haha. I was always really flexible and kind of agile and athletic for my size. I wrestled in high school and then right out of high school I ended up meeting Tito [Ortiz] and I went over to Team Punishment when he was champion in the UFC. I started training with him and, I don’t know, after maybe 30 days I went out there and had my first fight.

It’s interesting that you bring that up. Looking at your record, I noticed you actually lost your first 2 pro fights. How does one lose their debut and follow-up fight without getting discouraged?

Back when I first started fighting the only real pro organization was [the] UFC. Everything else was underground. There was no amateur circuit there wasn’t a commission. It was an amazing experience. It wasn’t even MMA back then, it was NHB (No Holds Barred) haha. Back then the world of MMA was just so different.

I think my first two losses… one was in Mexico and one was against Brian Ebersole, he was my second fight and he already had like 20 fights. Then my next opponent had like 14 fights. I was just a kid. I was doing it because it was easy money and I just love being a martial artist. As for my first fight, I actually won it but that wasn’t put up on Sherdog, it was just a different world back when I first started, that was in 2002.

“I still love Hatebreed. They’re still one of the best hardcore metal bands to walk the face of the planet. I just don’t want to be wearing something that says hate, because I don’t hate anybody.” – Emanuel Newton

One thing about you that has always intrigued me is your love of heavy music. As a metal head myself it’s nice to see people like yourself representing the metal community in MMA. I noticed you were sponsored by Hatewear [Hatebreed lead singer Jamey Jasta’s clothing line] with the likes of Chris Camozzi and Matt Brown. Is that still going on?

No, because with all of my spiritual growth, representing the word ‘hate’ just kind of gets to me. I still love Hatebreed. They’re still one of the best hardcore metal bands to walk the face of the planet. I just don’t want to be wearing something that says hate, because I don’t hate anybody. I still get hit up on Twitter sometimes by Jamey and Hatebreed, and they still show me some love.

It’s good that Bellator still allows you to have sponsors of your choice and gives fighters the opportunity to earn the kind of living you deserve.

I think that’s why UFC is losing a lot of good fighters and a lot more guys are going to start coming over to Bellator because they can have those sponsors. UFC is still the top company and that’s where it all started so, nothing but love to them. But it’s at a point where people have to start doing what’s best for them and their family. It’s not just about taking care of yourself but also the people around you, that’s why it’s important that we have every avenue possible to generate income and make money.

“I’m just going to go in there and impose my will and push the pace and just be mean.” – Emanuel Newton

Linton Vassell doesn’t have a lot of losses on his record, but you are one of them. How do you see the victory?

I’m just going to go in there and impose my will and push the pace and just be mean. I haven’t been as mean as I could be in my past couple of fights. I’ve got to have that mentality this time, kind of like the old school me when I was going non-stop full speed ahead.

Bellator 149 airs on Spike TV on this February 19th.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Refereeing’s Loss is Bellator’s Gain

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When former Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith left the organization last week, not many expected MMA veteran referee, John McCarthy, to be his replacement. There is little doubt that McCarthy will make an excellent color analyst. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the sport is losing one of the best and most experienced referees.

McCarthy has been part of the fabric of MMA and the UFC in particular, since 1993. He was hugely influential in creating and enforcing the rules of the cage that have changed MMA into the respected sport it is today. Back in early to mid-nineties, the ‘sport’ was fairly labeled by some critics as ‘human cockfighting’. Without McCarthy as an instrumental player in changing regulations and rules, who knows where the MMA would be today.

What we have grown to appreciate most about McCarthy over the past two decades is how simple he makes this tough job look, which can be credited to years of experience and dedication. To the layman, it would appear that it’s a simple as stopping the fight when a fighter is knocked out or submitted. MMA fans know there’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s difficult to remember a moment in recent memory where McCarthy has let a fight go too long, or even stopped a fight too soon. His timing is almost always perfect. His composure and rationale in the cage are unmatched. When McCarthy is the third man in the Octagon we know the fighters are in safe hands.

It’s worth reiterating how important McCarthy is in maintaining the standard of referring and judging in the sport. The sport of MMA is still very young and is growing rapidly and so are the rules. The former LAPD police officer created his own training school known as C.O.M.M.A.N.D. The course teaches the next generation of MMA referees and judges, and there is no better person to be educated by. Referees must complete this or a similar course run by Herb Dean to be licensed as an official.

Former fighter Frank Trigg, who has pursued refereeing since his career wound down, has taken the course. He recently appeared on The MMA Hour to explain just how tough C.O.M.M.A.N.D is. It took Trigg three attempts to pass, emphasizing just how difficult a career path officiating is.

While ‘Big John’ as he is more affectionately known hasn’t completely left refereeing, he will likely no longer be seen in the cage at the biggest shows. The pool of referees trusted with the big title fights is rather small. Normally McCarthy and Herb Dean are tasked with the important title fights.

It’s not all bad that McCarthy is stepping aside for the time being. The likes of Mark Smith, Jason Herzog, and Chris Tognoni have all shown they are capable officials. There is now a great opportunity for them to move into the main event slots. There are also the likes of Yves Lavigne, Mike Beltran and Marc Goddard who can be trusted to referee the big fights.

While it is surprising, it’s understandable that McCarthy is looking for new career ventures. It is no secret that MMA referees are poorly paid relative to other sporting officials. Las Vegas often discloses referee pay when assignments are announced. The pay tends to range between $1000 and $2000 for the night. Trigg explained on The MMA hour that there is no money in becoming a referee and that most also have full-time jobs. McCarthy’s passion for the sport of MMA has been the biggest incentive for refereeing. It is totally understandable that he would take a bigger payday and put all his knowledge of the sport to good use in the commentary booth.

McCarthy will almost certainly be as dedicated to his new job as he was with his refereeing duties. He can also offer a fascinating insight into the officiating of a fight that nobody else can offer. If there wasn’t already an excuse to watch Bellator 192 on January 20th, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima, then there most definitely is now.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192

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Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.

The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.

This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.

Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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