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From hospital bed to Bellator cage

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From hospital bed to Bellator cage, Rob Sinclair who hails from Burnley, England, returned to the sport of MMA at Bellator 136 when he went up against Saad Awad, falling short at the decision. Sinclair battled with a knee injury which put him out of action for 30 months until his return under 2 weeks ago. The drawn out affair of his injury required surgery to help him finally return to the cage. Holding a record of now 12-3 the 35-year-old is looking to get his career back to winning ways in the Bellator lightweight division. With 9 victories coming via KO, Sinclair is an exhilarating fighter with a dominant, explosive stand up game. He is also not shy of success and surely earned his spot under the Bellator banner being a former BAMMA and Cage Gladiators champion.

This week I was lucky enough to catch up with Rob as he returned home from his trip to America.

I firstly spoke to Rob about his injury and how it affected him both mentally and physically, I gained an insight into the mind of the fighter as he battled through this injury and what it was like.
“After I had the injury all that went through my head for the first hour was “it’s over, this is how I’ve ended my career after everything I’ve built up and sacrificed” But then the next day you become a little more optimistic and determined.Then the next day a bit more until a week after the injury, then I was so determined that no doctor was going to convince me I could not come back from this major injury.” The injury ruled him out for over 2 years, delaying his Bellator debut, which was originally meant to be against UFC vet Richard Clementi in a Bellator lightweight tournament.

Although Rob was out for such a prolonged period of time he did not lose faith battling through the difficulties to make it back to where he belongs, in the cage. For any fighter, it must feel relieving to fight again, to keep pursuing the passion that drove them for so many years. In Rob’s case, it was quite similar. “It meant a lot to me, it didn’t mean everything to me, I always knew after that first week I’d compete again. It was just a case of when, and it couldn’t have happened in a nicer city at an awesome show. I know now that nothing mentally could ever break me.”

As previously stated, at Bellator 136, Rob was unsuccessful in his bout showing some ring rust however also on occasions displaying the fighter and champion we all know. His opponent Saad Awad is the only man to ever defeat current Bellator Champion Will Brooks, Awad is a proven great fighter however Sinclair did not look out-of-place against him in that fight. Sinclair was the quick tweet about his disappointment in that fight followed by his eagerness to get back in there as soon as possible. He had this to say regarding the above as well as what he would like to achieve in the Bellator Lightweight division. “Yes I lost, he didn’t win, it was me that lost, I had massive odds stacked against me. With being out of comp for 30 months. Fighting abroad for the first ever time in the guys home town/state, against a top 5 ranked guy.
Maybe I was thrown to the wolves a bit but I never ducked a challenge. I’ve come out unscathed, I’m looking to compete again very soon because I know I’ve got another 80% to show, which is very positive for me. And it shows I’m on that world level, with more ring rust knocked off and more confidence who’s to say I can’t be world champ at Bellator.”

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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