In the mixed martial arts (MMA) community these days, you often hear complaints about watered-down events, and a far too busy schedule from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA.
Well fight fans, the recent two week lull of events has proven that we are either lying when it comes to wanting less events, or we have simply become accustomed to multiple shows every week.
Regardless, this weekend provides only one major event in the United States, and Bellator 129 is your ticket to fisticuffs. With UFC veterans Paul Bradley and Josh Neer set to throw down in the main event tomorrow night (Fri., Oct. 17, 2014) live on Spike TV, MMAmania.com sat down with both men to get their verbal assault started before tomorrow's physical confrontation goes down.
Excitement over being the sole MMA event this weekend:
Bradley: It's really awesome, to be honest. I couldn't be more excited that Bellator gave me this opportunity. It's going to be a good showing with both of us fighting in our home state. I honestly can't wait for it. It's definitely a huge plus that no other big organization has an event planned this weekend, so all eyes are on Bellator.
We are the biggest fight of the weekend on national television for a big promotion. We are both looking to go out there and make a statement. It's pretty cool because we are both from Iowa, so we will both have a ton of friends and family watching on Friday night.
Neer: It's definitely exciting, especially in this day and age with MMA cards seemingly every other day. I didn't even realize until I asked my friend last week when the next UFC was and he told me it was still three weeks away. Obviously, a lot of people will be watching my fight on Friday, and that gets me excited to put on a show.
Fighting friends. Is this personal, or merely business?
Bradley: It's definitely weird, because I'd rather not fight a guy I know, but at the same time it's what Bellator wanted. They obviously thought stylistically this would be a good match up for the fans, so why would I take that away?
We're friends, we're acquaintances, or whatever you want to call it, but it's competition. We have known each other for a while through wrestling and fighting, and yes we have trained together. At the end of the day, this is a business and this is our sport, so I look at it as merely competition. I used to wrestle my teammates at open tournaments, and go back to training with them the following day, so this is nothing new to me. This is us going out there to do our job, and when it's over we'll be done with it. I have no hard feelings toward Josh, and when it's over I expect us to shake hands and continue on our way. It's safe to say we'll share a beer afterwards.
Neer: First of all, we aren't friends. You don't fight friends. Anyhow, I didn't even realize Paul was fighting at 170, I thought he was a middleweight. When Bellator approached me for the fight, they told me that Paul had already accepted it. If they came to me first I would have told them "I don't really want that fight" and "I'd rather fight someone else," but if he accepted the fight I won't look like a little bitch by turning it down. So it is what it is.
At first I didn't want to fight him, but once they told me he had already accepted it, then of course it became personal. This is absolutely personal. I don't care that we grew up near each other.
Expectations going into Friday night:
Bradley: Josh is a tough, tough dude man. He has fought some of the toughest and biggest names in the history of this sport, and he rarely ever gets finished. The good thing is that I come from a wrestling background. I have dealt with the gritty, grimy, and tough wrestling practices and dog-fight matches I was in for five years, so I know what it takes to fight until the end.
You have to be able to push through adversity in this sport. For example, my Bellator debut against Karl Amoussou; I lost the first round, and then came back and won the second and third to win the fight convincingly. In that fight I took plenty of punishment, so in that aspect I think Josh and I are pretty similar. We both know how to dig down and get after it. We've seen Josh take punishment with no problem throughout his career. He is definitely a tough guy, but it is something we trained for and I am ready for. I am ready to go all three rounds, but if I can finish him I will definitely go for it. Truthfully, I am ready for whatever this fight brings and wherever it goes.
Neer: We know his style, we know how Paul fights. He doesn't exactly have any huge weaknesses, but we all know he is going in there to try and grind out a win on me. I have to do my best to not allow that to happen. His wrestling is his strong point, so I am going to exploit other areas not in the wrestling department. I won't underestimate him thinking he is an easy fight, but neither am I. This is going to be a tough fight for both of us, but I am more than ready.
Every time I go into a fight I am looking for the finish. That's the type of fighter I am and it's the type of fighter I have always been. Whenever I get into that ring I am looking to finish them by any means possible. A lot of the time I take damage with my style, but that's just the way I am. The gameplan is not necessarily to get punched in the face, but this is a fight, and Paul better be ready for a fight come Friday.
Both men's aspirations in the sport:
Bradley: The plan is to beat Josh on Friday night, and that win will push me forward towards a Bellator title shot. I think beating Josh will send me in that right direction. Realistically, two or three more wins and I could be knocking on the door for a shot. First and foremost, I need to go out on Friday night and get the win whether it is via decision, submission, or knockout.
Neer: At this point in my career, it's a job. I still enjoy myself a bit, but fighting isn't really about enjoyment anymore. I don't see myself doing this for too much longer. It's not too much fun to me anymore. But, everyone that gets into this sport has aspirations to be a champion, and I have always had those aspirations. If I can, I'd love to get a shot at a title.
That's a wrap!
For more on Bellator 129: "Neer vs. Bradley" check out our full Bellator 129 preview right here.