Bellator 157: "Dynamite 2" comes to Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., this Friday night (June 24, 2016). The massive kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) hybrid card will feature more than 20 fights with the most anticipated being a 215-pound scrap between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and judo gold medalist, Satoshi Ishii.
In the lead-up to this mega card, Bellator MMA scheduled a conference call with fighters featured on Spike TV this weekend. The aforementioned Jackson and Ishii took part along with Patricky Freire and Michael Chandler -- who will battle for the vacant Lightweight title -- as well as former UFC Heavyweight, Matt Mitrione, and his opponent Carl Seumanutafa.
With no opening remarks from company president Scott Coker, the call (listen to a full audio replay here) was immediately opened up for questions for the fighters. Jackson promoted the Ishii fight with his usual charisma, promising what he'd show the Japanese import on June 24.
"To showin' off an ass-whoopin'! I don't predict shit because I'm not a psychic, but I'll predict that I'ma a WHOOP HIS ASS!"
Several reporters tried to get Jackson to discuss strategy, but he wouldn't divulge any secrets.
"I'm gonna tell you my gameplan right now. Gimme one second. Gameplan coming right up."
Cue silence. However, he was a little more open about his desire to move up in weight.
"I'm thinking about moving up to Heavyweight. I don't like cutting weight, buddy. The fight was given to me as a Catchweight and I didn't turn it down. I had no decision making in that. I would have rather it just been a Heavyweight fight because I've been thinking about going Heavyweight for a while. I think I'm too small to go against the bigger Heavyweights, but I'm too big for the Light Heavyweight class."
Ishii, for his part, welcomed Jackson to meet him at whatever weight he wants -- his strategy stays the same.
"I'm excited to do this fight and yeah I'm looking forward to the fight. I can't wait for Friday. I'm more of a ground fighter so, (it's) more good for me to bring (it) to the ground."
Chandler spoke about his desire to recapture the Lightweight title that was once his.
"I think he's definitely improved. It has been a while. He's very much the same old, same old. He's got a ton of power, tremendous hands, you have to prepare right and that's exactly what I've done. I'm the best that I've ever been. Wherever this fight goes I'm going to be prepared. Him and I know each other well because we've fought before and I knew our paths would cross again ... so I'm excited for it."
Chandler was asked if it would be satisfying to win the title without beating Will Brooks, but as often occurs when "Ill Will" comes up, he sidestepped the question a bit.
"I know my past failures have prepared me for my future and I don't care who it is, I don't care who I step in the cage with, I'm competing with myself. The great thing is I've made so many improvements in my striking. It's been a long camp, basically two camps in one, but I have great people who pulled me back when I needed to be pulled back."
Chandler still wants to fight Josh Thomson, though, if he wins on Friday.
"Bellator invested in him and I think that fight is definitely a fight that needs to happen so I hope he comes back. We'll see what happens."
Freire spoke about the accusation Chandler levied that he's a knockout artist who fades when he doesn't get a finish.
"I'm ready to fight five rounds, I'm not looking to knock him out in the first round. The knockout's going to be a consequence of the fight -- it doesn't matter if it's the first round or the last round. I don't just look for knockouts, I look for submissions, too."
Freire talked about his memories of his first fight with Chandler at Bellator 44.
"I remember that each round we were pretty much starting off equal and then I would get kicked in the nuts. Every time I started hurting him, I got kicked in the nuts again. And then in the third round, I got dominated. This time will be different, because this time I'm gonna get the belt and he's gonna go back to Florida or San Diego."
Mitrione talked about making the transition to Bellator after his loss to Travis Browne in UFC.
"I can't wait. I'm excited to move on to this portion of my life. Brand new promotion for me, brand new audience for the most part, I'm looking forward to getting out there and putting on a show."
Mitrione also spoke about whether a win in his debut put him in contention for the vacant Heavyweight title.
"Well you know what the good thing? It's actually not my business. I don't really care if it does or not. I have to go out there and fight who they tell me to fight. As long as the paychecks don't bounce I'm there to do work. The powers that be can think about that and after I put this ass-whoopin' on Carl then we can talk about it if they want to talk about it."
Mitrione talked about his appeal for the Browne fight and disappointment the result wasn't overturned.
"I think it's a shame. I think it's a terrible occurrence. I think the case was extremely strong and we did a solid job presenting it. As soon as testimony was closed it was as if nothing had even been spoken. It's a shame, but I know my case is strong and my position is valid. Referees should not even be part of the conversation. They should just be there to ensure it's safe and fair."
Mitrione was asked whether he wants a title or a big fight.
"Honestly, man, I don't care ... I really don't. I enjoy competing, I enjoy being active. Have huge fights on big events and make a lot of money, sounds great."
Seumanutafa was reluctant to answer questions but did speak a little about his desire to face Mitrione.
"It feels great. I'm ready to fight, ready to get it. I'm not really good at doing interviews, so I'm just sitting here hoping nobody will ask me a question. I want a war. It's a suicide mission for me."
Complete audio of the call is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.