The undefeated Liam McGeary is one of Bellator's best in the 205-pound division and currently sports a 9-0 record. Tonight at Bellator 134 (February 27, 2015) he will get a shot at Emanuel Newton's light heavyweight title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut live on Spike TV (results here)
Now residing in New York City, the British fighter is a native of King's Lynn, Norfolk England. In 2012, he left his country behind for the U.S. to pursue a career in mixed martial arts (MMA).
"I sold everything. I sold my car, my apartment. I left my friends. I left my life," Newton told MMAMania recently. "It was a pretty good life as well. I didn't leave it behind for nothing. I came over here to concentrate on what I'm doing and this is what I'm doing."
So far things have been working out quite well for the charismatic fighter. He has won all six of his fights in Bellator. The last victory earning him the 2014 Summer Series tournament title and a check for $100,000 dollars. And he is currently dating reality TV star, Po Johnson. Not too shabby for a guy who was once delivering TV's for a living.
Bellator has promoted the Bellator 134 card as "The British Invasion," with fellow Brit Paul Daley also being on the bill. McGeary had press obligations back in England and in the U.S., of course. He was happy to see some of his mates while he was there, but said this is the busiest he has ever been prior to a fight.
"The last few days has just been crazy," he said. "I've never been this busy for interviews, having to be here and there and do all the stuff I'm doing with the media. I'd rather focus on the fight you know. I would've happily done this months ago and carry on so I can focus on the fight, but you have to do what you have to do."
McGeary, 32, has a chance to become the first-ever English champion in a major MMA promotion, but he is not thinking about that at the moment or stopping to smell the roses in regards to how far he has come in his career that began in 2009.
"No, I"m just staying on track," he said. "The job is not done yet. I'm one fight away. That's when I can sit back and say 'ok cool.' But as far as I'm concerned I have one fight left and then on to the next step. At the moment I"m just concentrating on getting my hands on the thing (belt)."
The Brit is always a fun conversation. He shoots from the hip and with his accent, lack of filter for explicit content and charisma accompanying his tall frame, he could easily fit into a cast for a Guy Ritchie film, something this author has mentioned before.
"I read that. It was cool," he said, recalling a post-fight Bellator 124 story featured on MMAMania. "One of my mates said 'Guy Ritchie where are you?' Thank you."
And what you see or hear is what you get. This isn't an act. And it is what makes him unique in a world of fighters that have all become far too common and similar to one another. McGeary is just being McGeary and it makes him magnetic, interesting, personable and approachable.
He will say he's "knocked motherf***ers out" as easily as greeting you with a "hello mate."
"That's just me in general. I was having a conversation with one of my mates this morning actually," McGeary says. "He was like 'you swear too much in your interviews.' I'm not going to stop swearing just because... I don't mean any harm by it it just slips out of my mouth. I might throw an F-bomb in there and it usually raises a smile.
"I want to be approachable. I'm 6' 6". I am a cage fighter and I do beat people up, but I don't want people to feel like 'oh shit, we can't talk to him because we might get angry and he might punch me in the face.' I'm not that way. I like to be approachable. I like to make friends. I like to be happy and I like the people around me to be happy as well you know."
McGeary says the title fight vs. Newton "is a good matchup." And he thinks the they both of their styles match up well with the other.
"I'm excited for it," he said. "They say styles make fights. My style, as you can see, finishes fights, so I'm looking forward to the fight."
Newton has had to go into deep waters in several of his last few fights, but he has always managed to come out on top. The champion has found a mistake or opening each time to get the job done. A spinning-back fist knockout against Joey Beltran after a sluggish start, and a rear-naked choke victory in the fifth round vs. Linton Vassel were his last two paths to victory. McGeary hasn't gone past the third round in his career, but he said he is fully prepared for whatever round it heads to, and he will fight smart.
"A fight goes as long as it needs to," he says. "People make mistakes against him. They underestimate his skills and what he can do. I have to just focus on what I'm doing and just focus on... just keep my eyes on the prize."
McGeary, who was brought into AKA for Daniel Cormier's fight camp for the UFC 182 matchup vs. Jon Jones, said his training "has been pretty hectic."
"It's been full on for the last few months," he said. "My coaches have pushed me and have made sure I'm going to be prepared for this fight and they've done well. One training session to another training session, rest and then go to another training session on top of that. It's definitely puts me to where I need to be and I feel awesome about it."
The Renzo Gracie purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu is a huge advocate of Kryolife, where he receives cryotherapy treatments after training sessions to recover. For the treatment, you sit in a small chamber for that fills with liquid nitrogen for several minutes to reduce pain and inflammation.
"It really helps," he says. "I went in this morning before I left. I was in there for about a minute and a half. I said 'this is pretty cold.' He said it was minus 150 degrees celsius and it was getting colder. It's pretty simple and pretty painless. Well, it's not painless, it hurts, but you kind of don't think about it and take your mind off of it. I would highly recommend it."
In addition to his girlfriend, Johnson, and several of his friends, McGeary will be having several friends come over from England for the fight, in addition to both of his parents. His father was once a boxer and this is the first fight of his son's fights that he is attending.
"My dad is actually flying in today," said McGeary. "He should be landing in a couple of hours. My mom flies in tomorrow. I have a lot of friends coming over from England and New Jersey and a couple of them are here already. It's nice to have some of them come over for this one. I'm looking forward to it it's going to be a great night."
McGeary may be happy and feeling great that his friends and family are coming, but he put an emphasis on letting it be known that come time for the main event to kick off, he will be more than prepared to perform and itching for battle.
"I'm focused and I know exactly what I need to do," he said. "I may laugh and joke around and mess about it, but when it comes down to it I'm looking for a fight and when Friday night comes I'll be ready for a fight."
Follow along with the Bellator 134 live play-by-play and results stream right here.