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The Wrath of Edinboro: Exclusive Interview With Bellator’s Chris Honeycutt

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Chris “The Cutt” Honeycutt is one of the rising stars in Bellator’s Welterweight division. I got to talk to him ahead of his rematch with Paul Bradley at Bellator 148, and I asked him about his undefeated record, his last fight with Bradley, and what he likes to do when he’s not knocking out opponents.

At 6-0 (1 NC), Honeycutt has quickly made a name for himself in the Bellator 170 lb weight class. However, he doesn’t seem to feel like there’s any added pressure from being unbeaten.

“Not really, I mean, I don’t look at it so much as being undefeated as Paul is trying to take that away from me. I actually think he got lucky it (the first fight) even being a no contest. After the 1st round, I dominated the 1st round hands down and by the 2nd I was really starting to open up and light him up on the feet when the clash of the heads caused a no contest.”

The feeling that he had been completely dominating the fight prior to the accidental headbutt definitely gives the sense that he felt the gameplan they had in place was working. He confirmed that there weren’t really any changes to the training camp and gameplan for this fight.

“No, the camp is pretty much just a mirror of the last camp. The difference is I’m better now. My striking is more sharp, it’s faster. Everything is identical to the first camp but my mental confidence in my striking has obviously improved and come a long way in the last 5 months.”

A 2 time NCAA All-American wrestler, Honeycutt is a little unusual in the sense that 4 of his 6 wins have come by way of knockout or TKO when most wrestlers seem to take a little time to adjust to the striking aspect of MMA. He says that it all comes down to mentality.

“Being a wrestler from Edinboro, we’re just tough. Tim Flynn over there just pumps out tough people. If you’re not tough you don’t make it through the season. Mine come from overwhelming my opponent from the 1st second until they finally break. That’s when I unleash the wrath of being a product of Edinboro and Dethrone.”

Training out of Dethrone, Chris works with another Edinboro alum and one of the founders of Dethrone, Josh Koscheck. Koscheck is a veteran in the sport and has shown the ability to transition from being a pure wrestler into a more complete fighter over the course of his career. When I asked what it was like training with someone like that, since they weren’t at Edinboro at the same time, Honeycutt gave praise to the camp.

“It’s big, we both have the same foundation of work ethic and philosophy of what it takes and the committment it takes to be successful. If you’re there for a year or 2 you see a lot of people come and go. The people that stay are the ones that have bought in to the idealogy of what it takes to be successful.”

When asked how he envisioned his upcoming fight going, he didn’t mince words.

“I think it’ll go relatively similar to the first fight. Hopefully we get to an outcome though. I see it going to the 3rd round and around mid 3rd round to the end I can see myself getting a TKO just by overwhelming Paul and putting him in a position where the ref won’t let it continue.”

And where does he think a win over Paul Bradley and a 7-0 record puts him in the division?

“If it doesn’t put me in the #1 contender spot then maybe 1 more fight til then. In the end though if they put someone in front of me I’m gonna beat him and it doesn’t matter who it is, they’re gonna lose.”

As for what he does when he’s not training or fighting? He has some hobbies, and one big item on his bucket list.

“I’m a big gamer, I play on PS4 and I’m playing Rainbow Six and Call of Duty Zombies right now. I try and read a couple books a year and I have a life goal or a bucket list. I’ll climb Everest at some point in my life. Sky diving is a big one, it’s a similar rush to what I get after winning a fight. Gotta get those endorphins.”

Chris Honeycutt will be looking to add another win to his undefeated record on January 29th against Paul Bradley at Bellator 148. A win there might just put him closer to another goal that I’m sure is on his bucket list, becoming a Bellator champion.

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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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