Bellator 194: “Mitrione vs. Nelson 2” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., this Friday night (Feb. 16, 2018), featuring the second leg of the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament in the main event, as Matt Mitrione (12-5) faces off with ”Big Country” Roy Nelson (23-14) for a second time.
Earlier in the evening, former Light Heavyweight champion Liam McGeary (12-2) will be in action against hard-hitting Russian fighter Vadim Nemkov (8-2). Nemkov made a stunning Bellator debut last year when he knocked out Phillipe Lins little more than three minutes into round one. Nemkov relies almost entirely on striking to finish foes, picking up 88 percent of his wins (seven of eight) by knockout. McGeary, meanwhile, is a little more versatile with six knockouts and five submissions, but three years ago around this time he was an undefeated fighter. Since that time, however, he’s just 2-2 in his last four bouts.
McGeary recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his plan to take out his frustrations on Nemkov’s face at Mohegan Sun Arena, especially given his long layoff since facing Linton Vassell.
“Yeah, well I was out for a while so I was kind of bothering them about getting me a fight, and they were like, ‘This is the one we can offer you’ and I wasn’t going to say no at it — so that’s how that one went down.”
Even though McGeary wasn’t about to turn down any offer after waiting this long, he’s fully aware of how dangerous Nemkov is after the “statement” he made against Lins.
“Yeah, that’s what I mean, he’s a tough opponent, you know? So now I’ve gotta make payback. This guy’s making statements like that, I’ve gotta match him you know?”
McGeary may also be feeling the pressure to stay in the upper echelon of the Light Heavyweight ranks, and he knows to be considered elite his wrestling and takedown defense must improve.
“Yeah, I wrestled. I learned that’s the rule. I learned how to stop the takedown. This is MMA, you never know what’s going to happen until it happens.”
Fight fans didn’t know what would happen with Bellator MMA’s Heavyweight title until Vitaly Minakov was stripped, and even then it didn’t announce the Heavyweight Grand Prix until a year later. Given McGeary is 6’6,” if any Light Heavyweight was a natural choice to enter it, he’d seemingly be the man; however, he disagrees.
“No, because the way I see right, Ryan Bader’s the champion, you know? I was supposed to fight ‘King Mo’ and that fell out as well, he’s now in the tournament. So I don’t know what happened there, it’s neither here nor there, my path is where my path is going, their path is theirs. The Light Heavyweight champion is held up for what — a year — if he’s in this if he goes through with this tournament? Sound, fair played then. That gives me a year to catch up and beat them, beat the bejeezus out of everybody I need to beat the bejeezus out of.”
In fact, McGeary has no interest whatsoever in an interim title if the entire 205-pound division is going to be on ice. The only way he wants the Light Heavyweight title is to get back the one he originally had.
“The way I see it there’s two people in front of me that I need to go beat, so I’ll go beat them. You know Mo wants to go and do the Heavyweight tournament with the big boys, sound, let him go do it you know? But, without Mo there’s Linton and there’s Phil Davis sitting in front of me, so that’s who I’ve got my eyes on. And once I’m done, then I can go do the other one.”
And McGeary doesn’t particularly care how soon he gets his rematches or an eventual title shot. He just plans to mow down everybody until he gets to his goal.
“The way I see it, mate, I’ve got Nemkov in front of me. I’ve got one fight at a time, one knockout at a time, one submission at a time. I’m not thinking of the past or thinking ahead of it, I’m just thinking of whatever date it is February next week.”
That date is this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena. And while McGeary may not remember the exact date off the top of his head, he remembers Nemkov and has a laser focus on beating him.
“I’ve seen what I needed to see. He’s a tough Russian! All these Russians are tough. They must put something in the water for ‘em you know? But, the thing is so are us British. We’re tough, durable, so we’re in for a good fight.”
Even a broken thumb last October couldn’t slow down McGeary for very long. He couldn’t wait to get the surgery done and get back to sparring with his mates.
“It was a bit like, I couldn’t spar because obviously I couldn’t with anything with my right hand. So I had to be patient. You just have to trust the process with these things, you know? If you start lapping and start panicking and shit then things go wrong — just trust the process. I know my body. I’ve been doing this for a little while so I understand what’s going on, and I just had to be patient. My hand was always going to get better, my thumb was always going to get better, so I just had to wait. Now, I’m hitting them right hands like they’re going out of fashion.”
The wait is over to hit the pads and to hit Vadim Nemkov, but he has to wait just a little bit longer for the joy of fatherhood to arrive in 2018.
“I’m about to be a dad. (The due date’s) May, but I reckon he’ll be here a bit before then. If he’s anything like me he’s very impatient, so he’ll be here pretty quick.”
McGeary vs. Nemkov is going down in Uncasville live and free on Paramount Network this Friday night. Don’t miss the former champ in action this weekend!
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Mitrione vs. Nelson 2” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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