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Bellator 239’s Ed Ruth doesn’t want ‘EZ’ challenges, believes Amosov is toughest one yet

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Ed Ruth interview

Bellator 239: “Ruth vs. Amasov” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., Feb. 21, 2020) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., airing live on Paramount Network and DAZN. A Welterweight main event sees three-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion “EZ” Ed Ruth (8-1) take on undefeated Ukrainian “Dynamo” Yaroslav Amosov (22-0).

After building up his record in international competition from 2012-2017, Amosov joined Bellator MMA and won decisions against Gerald Harris and Erick Silva in back-to-back bouts. Last year’s one-sided fight with “The Caveman” David Rickels was his first finish in the promotion and a strong enough performance to earn him this main event. Ruth, meanwhile, isn’t planning to be another notch in Amosov’s belt. Former Welterweight Grand Prix competitor bounced back from being bounced out of the tournament by finishing Kiichi Kunimoto and winning a hard-fought war with Jason Jackson. This will undoubtedly be the toughest test of his young mixed martial arts (MMA) career to date.

MMAmania.com recently spoke with Ruth about headlining Friday’s Bellator card and the confidence that he’s feeling heading into such an important bout.

“I’m feeling great. (The) camp’s been going great. No injuries, thank God. And yeah — I’m just ready for this.”

While Ruth has spent his entire pro career to date in Bellator, this is Amosov’s fourth fight and first main event for Bellator, so I asked Ruth to sum up his opponent’s current standing.

“You know I think he’s the perfect guy for right now. I definitely see him as a step up from my last opponent, and I think this definitely puts me right in that area of fighting for the (Welterweight) belt.”

That raises two different questions, so let’s start with Douglas Lima, who company president Scott Coker announced would fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant Middleweight title on May 9, 202. Does that put the Welterweight division on hold?

“It does hold it up, but also it’s a win-win for us. If Lima wins the title, or you know even if he loses the title (match), you still get to see how a 170 guy does against a 185 champ, so I think that’s still kind of cool.”

But Mr. Ruth, didn’t we already see that when Rory MacDonald tried to do the same thing? It didn’t go so well for him, but Ruth thinks Lima can do better.

“No, it did not. (Lima) is a guy who can take more punishment and dish it out (though).”

The other question Ruth raised was whether or not his performance against Jason Jackson earned him this opportunity, and how surprised he was by Jackson’s strength on the feet.

“I was surprised but you know in those striking exchanges, it’s like... they can go either way and it can change at a moment’s notice. There was a lot of times where I was throwing something out there, then he’d catch me and then he’d back me down, then next thing I know I’m backing him down, so yeah it was a pretty crazy fight. Pretty back and forth.”

The fact it was a split decision win for Ruth would tell you that much. When you’re a three time Division I wrestling champion, you might get away with losing a few exchanges.

“Yeah, because you know, even when I do get knocked down, the guy has to come in to finish you. So it’s like ‘Okay — while you’re around me I can just go ahead and start grabbing legs. I can wrestle you from here.’ Thank God I have long arms.”

Those long arms are definitely going to be necessary against a fighter who is 22-0. I asked Ruth what he thought of the last fight in that win streak against David Rickels.

“I thought that was a good fight. He fought really smart, kept his distance, he was tagging him when he found pretty good opportunities there. You know I just didn’t feel like Rickels showed enough, he didn’t show much, he was just kind of landing big shots here and there. But overall I thought it was a good fight.”

Ruth also noted that Rickels was “really conservative” and let Amosov dictate the fight, which is something he’s not willing to let happen at Bellator 239.

“Yeah, because I’m a pressure fighter, he (Amosov) is a pressure fighter, and I know that I have more pressure than he does.”

Has Ruth made any changes in training camp to increase the pressure he can apply?

“You know I kind of just kept doing the same thing, just trying to become better overall. It’s like a weird thing with MMA. It’s like when you work on something different, then you feel more comfortable in a different area. I felt more comfortable in my striking after I was doing more jiu-jitsu.”

Maybe it sounds weird to an outsider, but it makes perfect sense in MMA, because having more confidence in any aspect of your game frees you up to take more chances knowing that if Plan A doesn’t work there’s always Plan B.

“Yeah, exactly. That’s what the Diaz brothers do. You knock ‘em down they’re like ‘Okay, come on, Let’s go!’”

I wouldn’t recommend that strategy after what Masvidal did to Diaz, but it’s definitely food for thought, as is the idea that beating the undefeated Amosov makes Ruth next for Douglas Lima. If that doesn’t happen though Ruth’s cool with whatever.

“Just anybody that keeps progressing me forward. Anybody that they see as a challenge or who’s the next step. I like to keep challenging myself. As long as Bellator keeps putting another guy in front of me I’m just like ‘Okay, let’s go. Keep ‘em, keep those fights coming.’”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Ruth vs. Amosov” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

Bellator 239’s main card will start at 9 p.m. ET on Paramount Network and DAZN. MMAmania.com will deliver results and play-by-play for the Bellator MMA card HERE.

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