Bellator 225 happens at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., this weekend (Sat., Aug. 24, 2019, featuring a rematch between Heavyweights Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) and Sergei Kharitonov (28-6, 2 NC) after their initial encounter ended in 15 seconds with no winner.
Only one fight on the main card this week takes place outside the 265 lb. division, but it’s definitely not one to be missed. Undefeated Welterweight sensation Yaroslav Amosov (21-0) puts his record and his title aspirations on the line against “The Caveman” David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC).
Rickels is a long time Bellator fan favorite for his colorful entrances and his trademark aggressive fighting style. While a more cautious fighter might not have racked up his number of losses, the fact those losses come against names like Michael “Venom” Page and “Pitbull” Patricky Freire speak to the high level of striker it takes to put him away.
Amosov appears to be just such a fighter. “Dynamo” holds eight knockouts and nine submissions in his unblemished career. After two straight decision wins against tough veterans like Gerald Harris and Erick Silva, it might just be time for him to let the juice loose and spark a massive crowd pleasing victory in Connecticut.
Yaroslav Amosov spoke to MMA Mania by e-mail about his rising stock in the 170 lb. division and whether or not he should have been in a bracket of the Welterweight Grand Prix.
“Yes, I was a little disappointed. Initially, I was assigned as a substitute in the Grand Prix, but I had a medical operation and did not have time to recover by the date I was offered to fight with Larkin.”
Literally a bad break for Amosov, but regardless he’s still looking to gain more momentum by beating “The Caveman” on Saturday to earn a major divisional bout.
“After this fight, I would like to fight with Larkin, because I heard that he did not speak very well about me. But unfortunately he has a fight with Koreshkov planned. I would also like to fight with Paul Daily or Michael Page, they are very strong and interesting fighters, it would be interesting to fight with them in sports terms.”
David Rickels is not a fighter you can look past though. I asked Amosov to give his assessment of the success Rickels has had in Bellator.
“I saw that he is very good at breaking through combinations of punches. He is also a very good showman. I like that he refers to rivals without aggression, I think we will have a very spectacular and interesting fight.”
I suspect part of that may have been lost in translation, because Rickels is VERY aggressive. Either way I asked Amosov about being in the only main card bout NOT at Heavyweight.
“It’s a little unusual. Maybe this is a sign that I need to go to Heavyweight? Once I was close to this. In 2015 I won the world combat sambo championship at Light Heavyweight, but I realized that these guys are very strong physically and big for me. Therefore, now I follow a strict diet.”
That diet is obviously working since he’s still undefeated, but I wondered if there was one fight Amosov thought pushed him to the limit during his long streak.
“Each fight is very difficult in its own way, the most difficult thing remains (to be fought). I won all my fights confidently, moreover, I think that during my career I have not lost a single round.”
This is the kind of self-belief that comes from being undefeated. It’s also reflected in his electric nickname, which Amosov took the time to explain in his replies.
“I like this nickname; it was given to me by the audience at the Combat Sambo Championship. I was exhausting my rivals so the audience in the arena began to shout ‘Dy-na-mo Ma-shi-na’ — this is a constant energy generator. Since then they call me that.”
Going back to the Welterweight Grand Prix, I asked Amosov for his opinion of both the current champ Rory MacDonald and former champ Douglas Lima facing in the finals.
“I have been following Rory MacDonald for a very long time, because I like how he conducts the fight and his attitude towards his rivals. I recently met Douglas Lima, a good guy and I am impressed by his fighting style. I don’t know which of them will win and I want to see a spectacular and beautiful fight.”
A diplomatic answer to be sure but a fair one just the same. I also wanted to know how Amosov felt about sharing the card with a Pride FC legend like Sergei Kharitonov.
“It is very prestigious and motivates me. This is a legendary fighter, I have been following his career since the days of Pride organization, (back) then I was (only) a child. I really like how Sergei conducts his fights, he is a very spectacular fighter, in my opinion only a few of his fights ended with decisions — with Werdum and Nogueira — and all other fights ended ahead of schedule.”
Amosov didn’t just get into the sport because he was a fan of Kharitonov though.
“I first started practicing martial arts at the age of 15. I got into the section of combat sambo (due) to my trainer Serediuk Fedor, my stepfather brought me (to him). I was just a teenager and wanted to be able to stand up for myself. Later (I) began to win the competitions and takes the sport more seriously.”
In closing I asked Amosov what his future will be in this sport and in Bellator MMA.
“I think I’m just starting my way, because it’s only my third match in the United States and I want to go in the same lane (to win).”
He’s figuratively and literally on the right side of the road to make that happen if he can run over David Rickels on Saturday in Bridgeport.
Complete coverage of Bellator 225 “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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