Bellator 180: “Sonnen vs. Silva” comes to Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. on Sat., June 24, 2017. The pay-per-view (PPV) affair is headlined by a long standing grudge between rivals Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen that finally gets settled inside the confines of a Bellator cage.
Once again Bellator MMA today (Fri., June 16, 2017) held a media press conference with the stars of next Saturday’s huge event. Heavyweight co-main eventers Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione called in along with Lightweight champion Michael Chandler, his opponent Brent Primus, the Light Heavyweight champion “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis and Ryan “Darth” Bader!
MMAmania.com’s Steve Juon was on the line for the call, providing key updates and select excerpts of the conference call below. In addition, we have posted a full audio replay at the top of this article.
Mitrione on whether or not he has any lingering kidney stone issues.
“As far as I know I am 100% completely free from kidney stones, and I’m ready to go.”
Emelianenko on being named by Chael Sonnen as a potential opponent.
“We are in different weight categories (but) we can discuss this after the (Mitrione) fight.”
Brent Primus on whether or not he’s flying under the radar against Chandler.
“Definitely. There’s not a bunch of film on me, and I really haven’t been able to show my true potential and, there’s not a lot of film on me to look up. There’s a bunch of film on Chandler and a bunch of wars, and I think we’ve seen him fight so many times and seen a lot of what he’s capable of doing it. That’s a lot to look up and study but there’s not too much on me so I think it’s a good thing for sure.”
Emelianenko talked about facing a bigger opponent in Mitrione.
“I don’t think there’s any relevance or connection with weight difference. Each fight has its own specifics and it doesn’t really matter if it’s lighter or heavier. Each fight has its own nature. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Emelianenko on the fanfare of being in a co-main event at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m happy to be on a card with very famous and good fighters, and I can be one of them, and I’m happy and humbled to be part of such a phenomenal card.”
Bader talked about getting his title shot against Davis on June 24.
“It’s just any other fight really. After my last loss I had to look within and see what was going on. I needed to take it light, not put a lot of pressure of myself, and that’s when I fight the best. It’s just a shift in my mentality, so this fight is no different. I’m not even looking at the belt — I’m looking to win. I never got a chance to fight for a belt, so here’s my opportunity, and I’m going to make the best of it.”
Emelianenko on the changes he’s made since the fight got postponed.
“We trained in Holland to mimic Mitrione’s style. Whatever the injuries were before now, I actually feel a little bit better, and now I’m in top shape to fight Matt.”
Mitrione on his preparation for Emelianenko the second time around.
“I might be a little bit more prepared for the ground defense. We worked a lot of defensive grappling. You always come up with something new, a new kind of counter, a new angle to work on. Unfortunately for Fedor and myself we had to go through two camps, that kind of sucks. You kind of have to create something to keep it interesting, keep it fresh. Fedor was busy with his life and didn’t get much chance to train, only got a month in. Hopefully Fedor is back to 100% being the badass he’s always been.”
Fedor on the possibility of a back-up plan if Mitrione had another issue.
“Don’t worry about this. I will have my fight with Mitrione. Don’t worry about the contingency plan. I will fight with Mitrione — it’s guaranteed.”
Emelianenko on why he’s still fighting at this point in his career.
“Because I’m a fighter.”
How important is money in taking fights for Emelianenko?
“For every fighter money plays an important role because that’s what you do, that’s your job, and you have to make sure you provide for your family and pay your training expenses. Of course you’re always looking for the best financial deal you can make.”
What went wrong for Fedor in round one with Fabio Maldonado?
“Actually everything was right, but it was the second time in my fighting career where I didn’t see and didn’t feel the punch. It only happened twice. Everything else was correct that I was doing. I just didn’t see where it came from. Something like this happens. If it only happens twice in your entire life or career it’s not that bad.”
Mitrione on getting to fight at Madison Square Garden.
“No it’s like Fedor said, it’s an awesome joint, it’s great to have a fight there, I have mad family and a lot of friends still there. It’ll be a great crowd, a friendly crowd, but it doesn’t matter where you fight. You can’t get caught up in nostalgia. Maybe in a few years when I retire I’ll sit back and say ‘Holy smokes, I did that.’”
Davis on whether or not it matters that this is a rematch.
“I don’t want to downplay the fact that it is a rematch, and there’s extra effort and extra focus that goes into that, but the plan since day one was get the title and maintain it, so it all works together.”
Emelianenko on how he ranks Mitrione compared to other fighters.
“Matt belongs to a top echelon of MMA fighters, especially the elite group he used to fight, and he’s a very dangerous fight. He’s very skilled and very strong and packs a really good bunch, so he belongs to the top tier of those fighters.”
Mitrione on being rated “the hardest hitter” by Joey Beltran.
“I’m really happy that’s the case. You know what man? I’m so incredibly lucky and fortunate that I get to face a guy like Fedor. He’s absorbed the punches from everybody. It’s gonna be an awesome experience. I’ve got 11 victories and 10 are by knockout. I train everything just like everybody else, everything under the sun, but if I’m gonna win the way I want to I’m gonna do it with what’s taken me to the dance so far.”
Emelianenko on how many more fights there are for him.
“Like every other fighter I would like to fight as long as I can and as long as my body is physically capable to do it. God willing we’ll see. I have three fights signed with Bellator so hopefully with no injuries I’ll continue to fight.”
Chandler on if Primus having more film to watch makes a difference.
“Absolutely not. I think I have been battle tested. Brent and I are around the same age, he’s 12 days older than I am, and I have two and a half times the fights that he does. We both pretty much made our pro debuts right around the same time. I’ve fought for world title after world title and beat some of the best names in the Lightweight division history (and) his last two wins were split decisions. I’ve gone out and impressed over the last couple years, I’m at an all time high confidence, and I’m ready to go out there and prove that.”
Bader on whether or not Davis is focusing too much on defending instead of winning.
“No you know he’s looking to go in there and win, just like every other fighter on this call and out there. I’m looking to go in there and take that title from him. You know not like I did the last fight. I want to go in there and put a stamp on it, and get that belt wrapped around my waist in Madison Square Garden. A lifetime of work comes to fruition that night.”
Davis on where he ranks this fight compared to the rest of his career.
“I’ve already committed to this fight to being one of my best performances of all time. I’ve had a great training camp, and my skills are just, I just feel great. My all around game is just great right now, which is why we agreed to take this fight on such short notice. I wasn’t originally supposed to be on this card and I got on it on short notice for a title fight. We were completely fine with it because my game is just at another level right now. I’ll look back on this night and say ‘Man — not only was Madison Square Garden great, but I really threw down that night.’”
Davis on this being his first title defense since beating Liam McGeary.
“In my mind I was always a champion even before I was. I still have everything to prove that I always have. I’m going to put on such a great performance it will undo the bad performance I had in the past. It’s not so vindictive like I have to get him back for getting me. Every time I get in the gym, what motivates me is setting the bar even higher than I did last time. I have to raise that bar another notch and say hey, here’s a guy who defeated me before, and we’re going to have an even better performance than when I beat Liam McGeary and took the belt from him.”
Bader on having won against Davis the first time they met.
“I’m such a different fighter than I was that night. I’ve grown more in the last seven months than I did in the five years previous to that. I’m looking at this as a whole new fight, I’m a whole new fighter, and I’m sure he is too. I’m not looking in the past, I’m not looking in the future, I’m looking at next weekend.”
Bader on the change of opponents from “King Mo” Lawal to Davis.
“They both have a really good wrestling pedigree, but at that point we were kind of focusing on ourselves anyway, laying that foundation for a hard training camp. It was a seamless transition right into Phil. It was pretty easy on our side.”
Emelianenko on when he’ll arrive in the United States.
“I’m already in the United States, I came yesterday. Where I’m going to train is probably the hotel. My plan is to relax, get acclimated, and buy some toys and clothes for my youngest daughter. That’s my plan right now before the fight.”
Chandler on what motivates him as the champion.
“Coming back and proving my worth in this Lightweight division, it’s been a roller coaster of emotion, but now I could care less any more. I live this sport, I breathe this sport every single day, and there’s not a man who works harder than me. All that matters to me is winning fights and providing for my wife and future children, and everybody else can kick rocks.”
Emelianenko on whether or not his style has changed over the years.
“Everything of course depends on the way the fight will go. The only reason why you saw more striking is because I trained more in striking and because I felt I could stand up with the guys who are strikers, but to say I’ve changed my style is not true. It all depends on how the fight will go, the course it will take, and whether it’s striking or submissions I’ll take care of it.”
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