Bellator 170: "Ortiz vs Sonnen" comes to The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., this Saturday night (Jan. 21, 2017). It's a star-studded attraction headlined by a fight that is already predicted to be a ratings sensation -- "The Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz vs. "The Bad Guy" Chael Sonnen at Light Heavyweight.
Speaking of stars, it's very likely you'll find a famous singer and actress also starring in an upcoming "Smurfs" film, Demi Lovato, sitting ringside for one of the night's key fights -- all because she dumped former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. Guilherme "Bomba" Vasconcelos first rose to fame as a member of Team Sonnen on The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil 3." He got one official fight at UFC 175 before the promotion cut him, but after winning four of his next five bouts in Brazil, Bellator MMA came calling.
Making his debut at Bellator 157: "Dynamite 2" Vasconcelos did not disappoint, winning by rear-naked choke with one second remaining in the first round. Coincidentally, Lovato had "a fling" with Vasconcelos less than one month later -- they both belonged to the same gym in West Hollywood at the time.
In today's interview for MMAmania.com, "Bomba" talks about the challenge ahead for him in his fight with John Mercurio. Due to time and language constraints this interview was conducted via e-mail. To start, I asked Vasconcelos how it felt to reconnect with Sonnen after getting to know him on TUF and to do so in Bellator MMA.
"It feels amazing because both of us wanted to be on this card together. We have continued our friendship since TUF. I even lived in Portland for four months to train with him. I love being with Bellator and have a great relationship with the organization."
Since we never got to see Sonnen fight rival coach Wanderlei Silva at the conclusion of that show, I asked Vasconcelos if he thinks fight fans will ever get to see that fight go down under the Bellator MMA banner.
"I believe this fight will happen. And if Chael executes his style and gameplan, he can beat anyone."
Speaking of beating anyone, how does Vasconcelos rate his next opponent, Mercurio, despite a mediocre 8-7 record?
"I respect every opponent that I face. He has accepted the fight and is going to get in the cage with me so I have to respect that and his ability. To be honest, I generally don’t focus on the opponent I'm fighting, rather on myself and improving my striking and overall game."
Given the spectacular finish he had at Bellator 157, I asked "Bomba" if we can expect more of the same, and where those kind of performances will lead him in Bellator's stacked Welterweight division.
"I'm looking to get better every time, so hopefully it will be a better performance and faster, but I prepare to go as many rounds as I need to. One fight at a time. Right now, it's January 21st and nothing else. January 21st is the only fight on my mind right now."
How about that nickname "Bomba" ... where did it come from?
"It originated from my teammates when I first started jiu-jitsu because they all said I was very powerful and explosive."
And what should we expect from Vasconcelos if he wins on Saturday -- a promo in English or Portuguese?
"All the Bellator promos I've been doing are in English. I believe if I'm fighting here in the USA I must do everything I can to improve my English and understanding of the culture. Far too many fighters don't focus on that and I think it’s a shame."
Last, but not least, how does he think his former coach will do in the main event against Ortiz?
"I'm very excited to see Chael fight. I've haven't seen him fight since (training on) TUF and (I) can't wait for this one. Chael is the man. If he puts pressure (on Tito) and plays his game no one can stop him."
There you have it. Don't miss Guilherme "Bomba" Vasconcelos as he has a featured fight on the Bellator 170 "Prelims" undercard, which will stream live on Spike.com and right here on MMAmania.com. And remember: Complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night!