It's time for
When No. 1-ranked GLORY middleweight Joe Schilling returns to action, it will be in the Bellator cage as opposed to the kickboxing ring.
It was announced on Friday (Oct. 3, 2014) during the Bellator 127 telecast on Spike TV that the world's No. 2 MMA promotion signed Schilling and his debut will be on the Bellator 131 card on Nov. 15 against Melvin Manhoef.
Schilling was shown on the broadcast sitting cageside with his family.
"The match up is a really exciting one for the fans," Schilling told MMAmania.com after returning from the event early on Saturday morning. "I think whether Melvin and I fight in a cage or ring, with 10-ounce gloves or four-ounce gloves, it's still going to be pretty much the same fight. A great fight for the fans and on a huge card. It will be great for everybody. I've enjoyed watching Melvin fight for a long time and it would be great to have that win on my record."
This fight will essentially be a kickboxing match inside the Bellator cage. A fight that could've happened at GLORY: "Last Man Standing" back in June, but Manhoef lost in the opening round to Filip Verlinden. Schilling feels it will likely stay on the feet, but he will be "prepared for whatever happens," should it wind up elsewhere.
"Someone could get knocked down or someone could slip and go to the ground, but I don't expect Melvin to shoot on me and I'm definitely not going to shoot on him," said Schilling, who is signed to Bellator on a four-fight deal.
"Stitch 'em up" -- as he is known for wreaking havoc on past opponent's faces with his trademark elbows -- is "excited" to be able to use them again since they are forbidden under GLORY rules. The California-based fighter is "really looking forward to beginning a new relationship with Bellator" and got great vibes from attending Bellator 127 in Temecula at the Pechanga Resort and Casino and meeting president Scott Coker for the first time.
"I'm excited to work with him," he said. "Some of my friends have worked with him in the past and have said good things about him. I have nothing but good feelings from him and Bellator. I was sitting cageside tonight and it was beautiful production and it was great energy. I've known Rich Chou for a number of years now. We met back in the Elite XC days, four or five years ago. Back then I had a really good amateur kickboxing record and two or three professional fights. I hadn't really evolved into the athlete that I am now. It's kind of funny for both of us to come around full circle."
Last time we spoke to Schilling regarding GLORY, he had just endured a brutal evening at "Last Man Standing" at The Forum in Inglewood, California. He defeated Simon Marcus and Wayne Barrett before succumbing to the Russian standout, Artem Levin, in the tournament final. His contract status was up in the air after the event and it was believed he had one fight left on his deal.
His manager, Mike Kogan, was outspoken about getting a new deal done.
It turns out that his contract has expired and Schilling wants to make it clear -- despite quotes and stories that say otherwise -- GLORY didn't give their blessing or try to co-promote with Bellator, they simply just didn't re-sign him.
"We thought that there was another fight on the contract, but after going back over it, it was a two-fight guaranteed with a third-fight option," Schilling explained. "My contract expired along with Spong's and Saki's. So GLORY is taking credit on the internet -- Liverkick did a write up about it -- trying to give GLORY credit for co-promoting it or allowing me to go. They had absolutely nothing to do with it. I'm a free agent. My contract expired and Bellator offered me a good deal and we took it, but it had absolutely nothing to do with GLORY."
"We've been told they want to start to negotiate a new one, but nothing is happening with that yet. They allowed my contract to expire. Bellator offered me a new one and we took it. The wording in the Bellator contract does allow me to fight outside of Bellator for kickboxing. It doesn't have to be just GLORY, there are other promotions available as well. I'm out of my contract with GLORY, this deal had nothing to do with GLORY and It's kind of shocking to me that they would let my contract expire."
Does the GLORY 10 tournament winner feel it makes GLORY look bad that a fight between he and Manhoef, that could take place inside the GLORY ring, is taking place in the Bellator cage instead?
"I think it should make them look bad, but I don't think people are going to see it that way," he said. "Especially the way people are putting it together that GLORY are the good guys allowing their fighters to switch off and on. The reality is GLORY is allowing their contracts to expire and Bellator is picking them up -- which is probably scaring the shit out of them right now.
"I'm not sure what their situation is with getting new investments or getting their schedule figured out for the coming year. I'm sure they are going to sign me to a new deal if I come to agreeable terms. It was a little disheartening that I haven't heard from them and they allowed my contract to expire. I felt pretty solid and secure with GLORY."
"Stitch 'em up" did say he "looks forward to hearing from GLORY at some point" but for now he has to focus on getting back into MMA, a sport he hasn't competed in since 2008. He was unsuccessful with a 1-3 record that "doesn't tell you much," he said. Since those days he has been cross-training with some of the best in the world for the last several years even though he has only competed in Muay Thai and kickboxing.
"When I fought MMA four years ago I couldn't get a Muay Thai fight, so I was taking MMA fights on like three-weeks notice. They just happened to be Elite XC or big shows. I wasn't prepared for it then. I've been cross-training MMA for two or three years now. I've worked with some of the best MMA fighters in the world. My kickboxing and athleticism has really evolved since then so it's going to be a different fight. So if you look at my record and you expect to see a 1-3 level fighter on November 15th, you are going to very surprised at what you are going to see. As far as going up against Melvin, I look forward to it being a kickboxing fight, but if it goes to the ground, I think Melvin will be submitted if it goes there.
Schilling has worked with the Diaz brothers for a number of years now, in addition to Giva Santana and Kron Gracie for Jiu-Jitsu and Mark Munoz for wrestling. He will be heading up to Stockton shortly to join up with that camp that between Nick and Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, and Gilbert Melendez, who all have fights coming up, so "timing has worked out well," he said.
"I've been sparring partners and training partners with a lot of UFC guys and high-level guys for a number of years, all the way back to Team Quest with Dan Henderson and Thierry Sokoudjou," he said. "I think now is a better time and I'm in a better place and more prepared for MMA. I think I can put on some really exciting fights and who knows how far I can go in this thing? I'm really looking forward to it. Having four-ounce gloves again and throwing elbows and working in the clinch is going to be exciting."