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Kendall Grove: Nick Diaz, Training with Ortiz and more.

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Bellator brings us another event in the shape of Bellator 143 in Hidalgo, TX on September 25. The co-main event of the evening will be a middleweight bout between Kendall Grove (21-15) and Joey Beltran (16-11). MMA Latest caught up with Kendall ‘Da Spyder’ Grove for an exclusive interview.

Carl Richardson: Joey Beltran has 14 KO finishes, have you changed anything for this camp, or is it a normal camp for you?

Kendall Grove: Yeah, I’ve been training with a couple of hard hitters and working on my defense, obviously. I want to take away his strong points in this fight and that’s what I’ve been focusing on. It should be a really good fight, an exciting fight. We both go for finishes, should be a good one for the fans out there.

CR: How is the camp was going?

KG: Good, good. I’ve been training with Tito (Ortiz).  Obviously I didn’t have this fight when I came up to help Tito with his fight, and then I got it about 5 days after being up here, so, good man. I’ve been training with a guy who’s getting ready for the world title. My condition is on point. I’ve been training for 5 rounds but pushing a little harder even though I’ve got 3 rounds. I feel like I can go pretty hard for 3 rounds, you know and still have the gas, and good wrestling defense, obviously I know Beltran ain’t gonna take me down, but it’s still good for my hips. Also getting my training with my coaches at misfits at Westminster with Brady Fink, and Michael Bisping has been helping me out a lot, and sparring with those guys, working on my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu, and like I said before, I’ve been working with one of the greatest Light heavyweights of all-time, Tito Ortiz, so I’m ready.  

CR: Your last fight was the main event and this next is the co-main event. Being so high up on the card, does it increase the pressure or does it matter whether it’s the first prelim?  Do you just go into each fight with the same attitude?

KG: I wish I was fighting sooner. Because, obviously waiting there, sitting there, warming up, resting, not expecting a fight to go the distance, and some fights will go fast, so it’s kinda hard. Not hard, but that’s just the way the sport is. But I’m definitely happy it’s the co-main event instead of having to wait ’till last, but a fight’s a fight you know, regardless of whether it’s the main event or first in the prelims, we are going to mix it up, go out there and take each other’s head off and put on a good show for all the MMA fans out there. That’s all we can do. It’s our jobs, go out there and live it.

CR: Tito is facing Liam McGeary at Dynamite 1 on the 19th of September, it’s a different concept from normal MMA shows.  What do you think of the concept and are there any other fights apart from Tito’s you’re looking forward to?

KG: The tournament obviously. I can’t wait to see Paul Daley fight.  But we know it’s an odd concept, but will see if it works. But obviously if it doesn’t work too good then that will be the first and last. But if it goes good, we will see a lot more hybrid shows like that, and I think it will work. It can be hard, but I think it will work. I mean with the tournament you have four of the best Light Heavyweights in Bellator, and the winner of the tournament gets the champ.

CR: I was reading a forum and I found a statement saying that the middleweight division in Bellator is crashing, with the belt being dropped, and the number #1 contender going up to the UFC.  Do you agree with that statement, or does it put more emphasis on the remaining fighters to step up?

KG: Yeah it has definitely cost us, but Bellator is building, obviously the UFC is the UFC. Companies aren’t just going to sprout out and compete with the UFC.  That’s what a lot of these marks (I mean UFC fans) don’t understand that live and die by the UFC. What are we meant to do, shrivel up and die because we got cut from the UFC? We are still fighters, we are going to fight.  I just thank god for Bellator, ONE FC, JSW, all these other companies that are giving us a home to fight.  But yeah definitely our division is taking a beating, but we got the strongest division. But take baby steps homie, give us a year and we are going to be solid.  Look at all the signings Scott Coker has been doing with the other divisions and when the opportunity comes to swoop for another 85-pounder we are going to do it. Until that time, we are going to make do with what we have.

CR: What’s your take on the Nick Diaz five-year suspension?

KG: It’s bullshit and 80% of the MMA community thinks it’s bullshit too. It’s wrong. You have people pissing positive for PED’s, multiple PED’s, getting 1 year, getting 2 years, fucking Jon Bones Jones getting done for cocaine. You know cocaine is a hell of a drug…and a hit and run, and he gets nothing.  I mean we are all human, we all got flaws but come on dude. He gets a death sentence for fucking smoking pot? It’s just ridiculous. I think it’s going to be the tipping point for us as a community, as MMA fighters, it’s like, ‘stop shitting on us!’ I bet you thought it was f***ed up! But it’s like, ‘yeah you broke the rules, you should be fined, you should be punished, but like not send the guy to federal prison for shoplifting.’ That’s basically it. It’s like dealing out a death sentence for stealing a candy bar.  But why him? Because he’s not afraid to stand up for himself? He’s not afraid to voice his opinion? It’s just bullshit. It’s just pot. Like, what the fuck. It just sucks that he has to go through this.

Kendall Grove fights Joey Beltran at Bellator 143 on 25th of September, and it will be live on Spike.

 

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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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