Bellator 229: “Koreshkov vs. Larkin” takes place October 4, 2019 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. A huge Welterweight main event headlines as former No. 1 contender Lorenz Larkin (20-7, 1 NC) faces former champion Andrey Koreshkov (22-3).
Originally scheduled to meet in March of this year, Larkin withdrew from the fight due to an untimely injury. Koreshkov went on to defeat Michael Jasper as a alternate opponent, but he still had his eyes set on facing the former UFC standout and a future date and time.
Returning to the same venue where they were originally supposed to meet, Larkin will have to prove he’s the equal of “Spartan” Koreshkov, even though he’s beaten the likes of “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal in the past. Koreshkov has been more successful than Larkin in Bellator though and could be a win away from the champ.
Today MMA Mania talks to Andrey Koreshkov about his upcoming fight with Larkin and how satisfied he was with his last performance against Larkin’s replacement.
“Well I wouldn’t say that the change of opponent affected me that much. I can say that I was very happy the way the fight went against Mike Jasper — I mean it was okay, but not great. In the first round I injured my foot a little bit, so that kind of affected the way I fought for the remaining two rounds, but I managed to win. I just hope that this time when I fight against Lorenz, I will be able to showcase the best of my abilities.”
Is Koreshkov fully recovered from that foot injury and ready for Bellator 229 on Friday?
“Yes, of course.”
I’m sure Larkin’s corner will watch the kicks for any signs of weakness just the same. Koreshkov isn’t worried about it though or anything other than scoring a big win.
“I think that this fight is going to be a very serious fight for both of us. Lorenz Larkin is a very very good, tough and experienced opponent, and he was the No. 1 contender for a reason. He beat a lot of top guys such as Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny and other top fighters. I think me being a former champ and him being a former No. 1 contender, I think that the outcome of the fight would be very important for either of us. Both of us bear pretty high status in this weight category in Bellator. I think the winner of this fight, it would have a significant impact on his status as the contender for a championship belt.”
Koreshkov went from brief and to the point to loquacious and speculative faster than a Ferrari goes from zero to 60, and he wasn’t done yet.
“Also I would like to add that I think this fight is going to be very spectacular because style wise I think both of us are pretty spectacular fighters. Style wise this match up is going to be very exciting for everyone to watch.”
Since “Spartan” is already making predictions for the style of the fight, let’s find out if he wants to predict a knockout or a first round finish while he’s at it.
“Well I can not predict it but I can not say that this is not going to happen (either). Before each one of my fights I’m always thinking that my opponent is going to last the whole time, that it’s going to be all three rounds of a high paced intense fight. Given our credentials as strikers everything could happen, but I never count on it.”
Does Koreshkov also believe the winner of this fight should face the winner of MacDonald vs. Lima 2 for the Welterweight title?
“I think that is very logical. I think that soon we will also witness a new champion in this weight class. I think the winner of our fight with Lorenz is the most logical No. 1 contender, who’s going to fight the champ.”
That sounded like another prediction, so I asked Koreshkov to confirm that he meant Lima would defeat MacDonald to reclaim the Welterweight title.
Why is he so confident that “The Red King” won’t retain the title despite MacDonald emerging victorious the first time they met?
“I have a pretty vast experience of fighting against Douglas, and I can say he’s really improving from fight to fight. If he makes mistakes in the fight, he and his team analyze that really well, and for the next fight they usually get rid of those mistakes that he used to have. So I think that he will study his first fight against Rory, and that he is going to work on his weaker sides that allowed Rory to beat him last time, and I think that he won’t allow Rory to do it again.”
Does Koreshkov think that MacDonald doesn’t have the heart to put a man through pain any more and may be done even before they could potentially fight?
“To be fair Rory hasn’t lost recently to anyone in his weight class. He also fought Gegard Mousasi and lost to him but it was in a different weight class. I think that fighting him now would be significantly not as sound PR wise as when he just left the UFC, but I think that UFC had PR on a higher scale, so basically fighter names are bigger over there, but it doesn’t take anything away from Rory as a fighter. As a fighter I don’t think he became any less dangerous or a tough contender, so I think fighting him for the title would still be a huge fight.”
Getting back to Bellator 229, I asked Koreshkov if California is getting to feel like home given how many fights he’s had there.
“I like it a lot over here. I’m used to fighting in California (now) and I think it’s going to be my third fight in Pechanga. The previous two fights I had there I won both of them so it’s my lucky place. I think I’m used to fighting abroad, I’m used to fighting in California in particular, because I haven’t fought back in home country for such a long time. I can say it’s very convenient and comfortable for me to perform over here.”
Koreshkov’s good luck will be Larkin’s bad luck if all of his predictions come true Friday.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 229 “Koreshkov vs. Larkin” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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