On Friday November 6th, in St Louis Mo., on Spike TV, Marcin Held (21-3, 10-2 BMMA) will face reigning champion Will Brooks (16-1, 8-1 BMMA) for the Bellator Lightweight belt. At only 23 years old “The Polish Prodigy” has already ran through a large portion of the division. He won the lightweight tournament and is currently on a six-fight win streak. I recently had a chance to talk to Marcin.
CW: You’ve got a lot of fights under your belt for only being 23. Your first pro fight was when you were 17. Obviously the experience is an asset but do you worry about becoming old before your time?
MH: No. I don’t see this as a problem. I train a lot and I train hard to be a better fighter. I think this also helps me everywhere. My training makes me healthier and stronger, so I think I am in better shape. All the fights do have an affect on my body obviously but I take care of myself and I am smart about training and fighting so I think I will have a long career.
CW: You take fights you don’t really have to from a career standpoint. Is it because that’s how you stay at your best? Is it because this is your job and you believe in going to work or is it to prove that you’ll fight anyone anytime and you want everyone to know it.
MH: I take the fights that will help my career. I think all fights help my career. If I take a fight on short notice, I still feel like I will win so I don’t see them as taking a risk only that they will improve my record show my skill and that I can win against anyone.
CW: Polish fighters seem to be making their presence known in MMA. There is Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Marcin Wrzocek on this seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, yourself, and a few others; is this the start of a Polish invasion like we’ve been seeing from the Irish?
MH: MMA is very popular in Poland. It is growing very fast. Most Polish fans watch the Polish fighting organizations they don’t see as much of the American fights but they do know when Polish fighters are doing well. I think the sport will keep growing in Poland and that there will be more Polish fighters to be known around the world and this will make the Polish fans more happy and maybe they will see more fights from more organizations all over the world.
CW: You’re often called a leg lock specialist but I see you as a very well rounded wrestler/BJJ practitioner. Does it bother you some when people distill your style down to just leg locks?
MH: No. I like the leg locks very much I think I can get them on every fighter. I think maybe because I am good at them people call me a specialist but I am training all jui jitsu. I have arm bars, chokes; I think I am well rounded, so this does not bother me.
CW: Do you feel a little overlooked. Chandler and Brooks fought for interim belt. You took the Nate Jolly fight even though you didn’t need to. Chandler lost a split decision and got an immediate rematch. Then you defeated Pitbull but they give a title shot to Jansen before you.
MH: No. I feel like my time is coming. After I won the fight against Pitbull Dave Jansen already had a fight scheduled with Will Brooks so I know that I will fight the winner next. I just wanted my chance to fight for the title so waiting one more fight did not bother me.
CW: Then you took the Sarnavskiy fight when you didn’t need to. That was a risky fight. He is a great striker. Were you worried about that maybe affecting your title shot if you lost?
MH: I didn’t want to wait too long between fights. I think I am at my best when I fight more. I train a lot in the gym and am always trying to get better and learn new things but you cant know what you have learned in training until you fight so I like to fight as a way to see how my training is going, to see what works and what I need to improve on.
CW: In your Fight against Ryan Healy I noticed improved striking. You landed several hard rights before you knocked him down and out. Have you been making an effort to focus more on your striking?
MH: This is something I am looking to improve on. I am looking to improve on all aspects but I train striking more because you have to be well rounded to be champion.
CW: About that, I know you spent some time at Roufusport in the past. Are you still working with Duke Roufus?
MH: No. I am training at home now. I think to train other places is good sometimes but I think that it goes best for me at home. I have good coaches and I think that I can get everything I need at home.
CW: Will Brooks like to stay at range, cut angles and uses a lot of kicks. But you like to move forward and all his kicks would seem like he’ll be inviting you to take him down. How do you think that matches up against your style?
MH: He is a good fighter. He is the champion. We have watched his fights and I have a plan for fighting him. I don’t want to talk too much about this but I think we have a good plan. When we fight I think Will Brooks will be surprised. This is all I can say about this. He will be surprised.
CW: Last question. I have to ask you this. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Rousimar Palhares. You’re both leg lock specialists. You’ve injured a couple of guys and broken some legs. What do you think about his situation?
MH: With the leg locks you can easily hurt someone but I think he tries to hurt people and because of this I don’t too much like him. He holds the leg lock too long when he should let go. I think people can get hurt in MMA but we are not trying to hurt each other, we are competing. It is sport. When you get the submission you should let go. If I break an opponents leg, it is my opponents fault because he did not tap before this happened. I fight hard and am trying to win but not hurt people. I let go as soon as the fight is over. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I think Palhares tries to hurt people. This is not good. I don’t like it.
CW: Marcin, thanks so much for your time. I look forward to talking to you again.
MH: Thank you. Ha-Ha. Yes, yes. We will talk when I am champion.
Recently Will Brooks made some unflattering comments about Held’s fighting style and in keeping with his humble nature Marcin dismissed it all as merely words. The fight is certainly a clash of styles but Marcin’s improved striking and his iron chin might close the gap on Brooks stand up advantage while Held’s ground game is unquestionably far superior.
A win for Held would not only make him the lightweight champion but bring his career with Bellator full circle since his only losses in the organization are against the men Brooks has beaten in his two title defenses. Held isn’t thinking about that though. As far as the Polish Prodigy is concerned, no matter what happens he intends to take on all comers, for a long time to come.
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
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)
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)
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)
Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
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.
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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.
Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card
Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.
Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.
This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.
Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK
- 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- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK
- 195 lb. 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 (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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