Bellator 175: “Rampage vs. King Mo 2” heads to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., this Friday night (March 31, 2017), featuring Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal — who will look to settle a beef that dates back to Bellator 120 — in Spike TV’s main event of the evening.
Right underneath them is an exciting Heavyweight match where Pride FC veteran Sergei Kharitonov returns for his second Bellator bout against long-time promotional veteran Chase Gormley. The timing couldn’t be better for Gormley as the former Titan FC champion has won seven of his last eight bouts, is on a two-fight win streak, and at 33 years young, he’s just coming into his prime. In addition, six of his 14 wins (42 percent) are finishes including four knockouts.
Kharitonov, meanwhile, is far better known for dominating his opponents — only one of his 23 wins has come by decision, including 13 knockouts (56 percent). Unfortunately for the 36-year-old, he was on the receiving end of one in his Bellator debut.
Gormley recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his big opportunity at Bellator 175 to knock off (or knockout) a legend of the sport, while being equally aware of the risk to take a loss and wind up at the back of the line for the vacant Heavyweight title.
“I think it’s exciting. It’s really going to let me know where I’m at as far as the Heavyweight division goes. I just got to have a good performance this time around. The last two fights weren’t that great. If I can go out there and beat a guy of his caliber that really shows that I’m where I want to be, you know?”
What Gormley said next took me by surprise -- he thinks Kharitonov made a mistake taking this bout after being stopped 16 seconds into the Ayala fight ... even though it was four months ago.
“I think he just kinda caught him off guard. Sergei hadn’t fought in a while and probably thought it was gonna be an easy fight and got a rude awakening. I think this fight he’ll probably not make that same mistake, and I’m gonna have a tough fight on my hands, but I think he got knocked out pretty good. His brain probably hasn’t healed all the way. I think that’s gonna play a big role if I go out there the first minute and just try to crack him a good one, he’ll go down a lot easier than if his brain healed all the way.”
You might think he’s saying this just to build up the idea in his mind of getting an easy win over a dangerous opponent, but Gormley says he knows exactly what it feel like.
“I’ve been knocked out before and I know even when you get barely touched in a room your head’s ringing and it’s just ... it’s a reason you want to go down any time you get hit with a big shot. I think after about six to eight months, your brain starts to heal and you can start taking punches again. I know from personal experience that it’s probably not the best to come back so fast just to do it, but he might just be a tough dude that can recover fast. I don’t know. I’m just going to go in there with the expectation that his brain’s still a little knocked around.”
It’s an interesting assessment on Gormley’s part, but it’s the responsibility of the promotion and the athletic commission to decide if Kharitonov is fit to fight — not his or mine. Nevertheless, a win is certainly not a guarantee when you’re facing an opponent who finishes in 96 percent of his wins (13 knockouts, nine submissions) and has won 79 percent of his fights overall. Gormley accepts that, but knows he needs to win big to contend for the vacant title.
“Well, especially when you win against Sergei. You know that definitely puts me in the running. It’s very important for me to go out there and have a good performance. My last two performances in my opinion have been horrible, you know? In the last fight I fought kind of scared, like a coward, and I’m very disappointed in myself for that. I’ve been making those adjustments this camp.”
It’s hard to take anything from Gormley when he’s as brutally honest about himself as his opponents, taking it a step further by saying he needs to watch his weight carefully.
“A big issue I had was getting my weight down on time, I think I kind of procrastinate on that, and then when I go into the fights I feel like real lethargic and slow, you know when you don’t cut properly. I’m already on weight right now, so I think this camp I’m pretty sure I’ve got my weight under control. I started at 315 pounds, but I’ve already lost like 30 some odd pounds so I feel good, man.”
I’m sure you just did the math in your head — I know I did — he’s got 20 more pounds to go. I had to know what his plan is to get down to 265 in time for the fight.
“I’m naturally over 300 pounds. My body is just aching to go there, you know? So I literally have to eat like a gerbil. I eat lettuce wraps. Right now I’m overloading on water, but next week I’ll have to cut that out, too. I have turkey and chicken, I just try to cut out any of the red meat, I have that once a week. For some reason beef just packs it away on me for some reason so I try to stick to lean meats up there and (cut) the red meats down.”
Gormley isn’t mincing red meat nor his words. He’s ready for war at Allstate Arena.
“The Russians are tough, too. If I don’t go in there and knock him out it’s definitely gonna be a really outstanding fight because he’s a tough dude.”
Tune in this weekend to see if the brutally honest Gormley is just as brutal to his opponent on fight night. Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here.