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Bellator 179: Liam McGeary ready to beat up his mate Linton Vassell, share a pint afterward

Liam McGeary

Bellator 179: “MacDonald vs. Daley” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., May 19, 2017) at SSE Arena in London, England, featuring the promotional debut of “Red King” Rory MacDonald against hometown favorite Paul “Semtex” Daley in a Welterweight main event.

In popularity, though, Daley may easily be rivaled by the two Light Heavyweights on tap — a former No. 1 contender hailing from Milton Keynes, Linton Vassell (17-5, 1 NC), and a former champion hailing from King’s Lynn, Liam McGeary (12-1). Indeed, it’s a war between the English in London!

Vassell has been to the mountain top before, but was unable to plant his flag on the summit. With two straight wins in an increasingly crowded 205 division, though, a third may rocket “The Swarm” right back to the top. However, McGeary has no intentions of stepping aside to give Vassell (or anyone) a title shot. The towering 6’6” fighter showed his old form when he took Brett McDermott’s best shot at Bellator 173, then promptly destroyed him with a series of knees. Although most men would have found the circumstances of fighting McDermott frustrating, with two other opponents dropping out in less than one week, McGeary says he didn’t mind at all.

“Oh, I didn’t give a shit mate! I just was looking for a fight. I didn’t really care who it was who was in front of me. The outcome was always going to be the same, so I just needed to get someone in there so I could do it to them.”

There was a brief moment in the fight where McDermott had his opportunity, but a McGeary who is brimming with confidence right now can write that off as a lucky punch.

“You know what? It was just, it was early on, it was trying to get settled. I zigged when he zagged, it’s as simple as that, you know? These things happen in MMA. It’s one of them ... I just walked into a jab of his and he knocked me off my feet. That guy can hit hard.”

Vassell can hit hard, too, at 6’4” with an 82” reach. He matches up well with McGeary in size and in ambition, because he wants to beat McGeary and become the “King of England” at 205 pounds.

“Yeah, he’s saying this, I’ve heard it, I’ve seen him write that down a few times. To me, man, I don’t really care. A fight is a fight. You want to sell it as the King of England, sound, sell it as the King of England. I’m just going to turn up for a punch up. That’s as I do always.”

You might get the impression that McGeary isn’t interested in hooking in viewers with gimmicks, but the truth is McGeary thinks he is the hook because of his style and appeal.

“I’ve always turned up to fight, I’ve always turned up to finish guys, I don’t like judges decisions, and I’ve got all my friends there. So to me I’m just having another fight in front of all of my mates.”

Speaking of mates, though, both men have admitted they are on good terms as fellow Englishmen in Bellator, so I asked McGeary if he can get motivated to hurt someone he likes.

“He’s a friend of mine. There’s no emotionals. The emotions were in my title defense against Phil Davis, so that’s what happened there, but with Linton, man, I’m just going in there to have a punch up with my friend. We’re gonna put on a good show, we’re both looking forward to it, so you can always have a good scrap with your friend and have a beer afterward, you know?”

Friends or foes they move up one spot on the card to the co-main event, which McGeary laughs off as cutting into his chance to kick back and enjoy a few pints with or without Vassell.

“Heh! I was looking forward to watching all these fights (after mine) having a beer! {*chuckling*} That is what I was planning.”

The cold ones will have to wait until the main event then when MacDonald meets Daley, although he’ll probably offer his mate Vassell one first to apologize for the beating he has planned.

“Same as normal man! An exciting fight and a finish from me. Linton Vassell’s style is that he likes to take people’s backs and try and finish from there, you know? If he just goes for the rear-naked choke the whole time and somebody can defend it, then you’re just riding it out to the judges decision. But, I mean — I train with the best in the world in New York City — so I’m used to having big people on my back. I’m used to shaking them off and then doing what I want to do to them. I’m prepared for what he has to offer ... and more.”

McGeary wants to make one thing clear both before and after this fight in London — he’s that damn good and what happened against Davis was just a mental lapse on his part.

“At the end of the day with the Phil fight, I forgot my jiu-jitsu, I forgot who I was, I forgot what I was about and emotions kicked in. When emotions kick in in these fights, you kind of lose your head, you know? And that’s all I did with Phil Davis, I let the emotions get the better of me and it took me off my game. Now I’m back -- now I’m back to the person who I was.”

Is the new Liam McGeary just a return to the old Liam McGeary? We’ll know for sure on this weekend when he fights Linton Vassell in the co-main event of “MacDonald vs. Daley” on Spike TV.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here.

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