Tag Archive for 207’s

Bellator 207’s Kimbel Leaves Rowdy Youth Behind

Bellator 207: “Mitrione vs. Bader” takes place this Friday night (Oct. 12, 2018) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., featuring a semifinal match in the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix between reigning Light Heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader (25-5), taking on Matt Mitrione (13-5) in the Paramount Network-televised main event.

Earlier in the night two up-and-coming Bantamweight hopefuls — Mike Kimbel (1-0) and Alex Potts (1-0) — will be on the hunt for the second win of their professional mixed martial arts (MMA) careers. However, only one of them has so far been given a “blue chip” designation by the Bellator MMA — Kimbel got the promotional push by performing a powerbomb on Bellator 194’s “Prelims” undercard and then pounding out the hapless Geoffrey Then with heavy hammerfists. The powerful performance was so impressive that Bellator immediately offered Kimbel a multi-fight deal.

That victory may have caught a few people by surprise because Kimbel was just 1-2 as an amateur, but he’ll have the chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke at the expense of Potts, who like his opponent earned a return date by winning his promotional debut. It’s early in both of their respective careers, but “somebody’s OH has got to go.”

MMAmania.com recently chatted with Kimbel about the attention he’s received since his professional debut, and how he’s coming to grips with people wanting to know so much about him.

“Well, I’m glad there’s not too much on the Internet about me! I mean yeah, I have a family and things like that, brothers and sisters and stuff, but you know the world doesn’t need to know everything, you know?”

His desire to separate his personal and professional life is understandable, but the personal details are often what connect fight fans to the fighters they like most. Once I asked Kimbel the reason (s) he got into the sport he started to open up a little more.

“I got into mixed martial arts because I kept getting in trouble for fighting. My mom finally had enough of it, and thought she was putting me into a Kung Fu or like a karate type of school, but it ended up being a mixed martial arts gym. Yeah, I loved to fight, I always had something in me that was drawn to combat.”

Jim Brown once famously opined that, “fighting isn’t what we thought it was” and that was a lesson young Kimbel learned once he started to go one on one with true professionals.

“I was getting taken down and they were doing all these moves that I saw Georges St-Pierre doing and Chuck Liddell, how he was doing the kickboxing stuff, I just fell in love with it and I haven’t looked back.”

From that point Kimbel wanted to excel in the sport and live out the dream of becoming a world class athlete. School yard fights had become a thing of the past.

“I always had a feeling inside of me like I wanted to be bigger than myself. I wanted something greater than myself. I would get these rushes, like tingles, butterflies through me just randomly thinking about greatness.”

Like so many other young men who turned to martial arts for discipline and guidance, Kimbel credits it for saving his life and putting him on the right path.

“I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t fighting, I don’t know where I would be. Hopefully I would be in the military serving my country, in special operations or something like that. I don’t know. I went into the gym, I figured, ‘Okay. I can do this, I can be good at this, I can be great at this’ and I just kept showing up every day. Here I am, 21 years old, doing it.”

And as evidenced by his performance at Bellator 194, he’s doing it in a really big way.

I asked Kimbel what surprised him more — seeing his pro debut being shared all over social media, or getting a multi-fight deal from Bellator immediately after his win.

“I was actually very surprised at the six-fight deal. Every fight I’ve had, every finish I’ve had its always been, ‘Wow! I didn’t expect it to be like that. Did you see what Mike just did?’ So it’s just the fact that a worldwide platform had caught eyes of it, you know what I mean? I wasn’t surprised that it went viral, because I knew the world would be watching. The world had seen many great great athletes and many great great mixed martial artists, and I know every time I step in there, everything I do is going to be, ‘Wow! Look at this kid!’ So I wasn’t surprised at that, but I was very surprised and I was grateful for the six fight opportunity. It’s a blessing. I’m grateful to be a part of this organization. I mean, that doesn’t happen! You don’t make your professional debut for the top organization in the world and then get signed.”

MMA promotions aren’t ranked like fighters so we can’t say who is (or isn’t) on top, but we can say that Mike Kimbel wants to get on top of Potts and dominate him at Bellator 207.

“Yeah, Alex Potts, the match-up for me … I’m ready for ALL of him. I’m ready for wrestlers, I’m ready for strikers, I’m ready for jiu-jitsu artists. I’m in the gym every day with no ego, constantly trying to learn something, constantly trying to apply something. I’m ready for him.”

If you weren’t already tempted to compare him to another young Bellator prospect, Kimbel just wants you to know this: He won’t fight scrubs and only tough opponents get love.

“I’ve seen (Potts) fight. He’s well rounded. Not for nothing, I might be the only fighter in the organization on the early come up who’s not fighting bums. I’ve never fought a bum in my life. Geoffrey Then had never been finished, and he was actually 1-1, I don’t know why they said he was 0-1, and he only lost in (Bellator) by a decision. I never fought a bum in my life and I’m not gonna start. Alex Potts is another good competitor, he comes to fight, he’s a natural wrestler but he likes to strike — he’s just an overall good fighter.”

Now at last you can say you know who Mike Kimbel is and why you want to see him fight at Bellator 207. He has that unique dichotomy of being both humble and cocky, exuding the aura of a star in the making. Let’s see if that star shines on Friday night.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Mitrione vs. Bader” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Bellator 207’s ‘Hollow Point’ Ready For ‘Stand Up War’

Bellator 207: “Mitrione vs. Bader” takes place this Friday night (Oct. 12, 2018) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., featuring a semifinal match in the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix between Matt Mitrione (13-5) — who is riding a four-fight win streak — against the five-fight winning run of current Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (25-5).

Earlier in the evening, a crucial women’s Featherweight bout pits two potential contenders — Janay Harding (3-4) and Sinead Kavanagh (5-2) — against each other, with the winner possibly earning a future shot against reigning champion Julia Budd (12-2), which is no small matter given that Budd has a longer win streak than both Mitrione and Bader combined.

Kavanagh rattled off a four-fight win streak of her own until 2017, then experienced some of the growing pains young fighters do with two losses, including a split decision at Bellator 187 against “Angerfist” Arlene Blencowe. She rebounded nicely from that rough patch with a main card technical knockout win, setting up the SBG Ireland-trained prospect for a big 2018. “Hollow Point” Harding, meanwhile, has also been on the wrong end of a fight with Blencowe, although that one took place in Australia. Despite a loss to Amber Leibrock in her promotional debut, this fight could spring her up the ladder in a division where Budd has beaten everybody but these two women.

MMAmania.com recently spoke with Harding about her preparation for a huge Bellator 207 fight, as well as how she got the “Hollow Point” nickname in the first place.

“My very first amateur fight in MMA, I kind of dominated, TKO win in the first round. It was a bit of a blasting. I think since then, when we were kind of brainstorming around nickname and fight name ideas, we kind of came up with that. It seemed relevant, the kind of blasting I was seeing was a good option, and yet it all kind of was consistent across. It ended up sticking and I’ve still got it now, which is surprising.”

Outside of mixed martial arts (MMA), Harding also has a background in boxing, and she credits the work she’s put in there for making her a better fighter overall.

“It’s always great to go back and specifically cover just the boxing side of things. I find that when I come back to MMA, my defense is better, my jab might be crisper and all that kind of stuff. I end up really benefiting off isolating that for maybe a few weeks, three to four weeks, and then coming back to MMA and incorporating it into my striking game in the MMA scene. I really feel like I’ve got a little benefit off even just competing and getting more ring time in competition and getting used to that kind of atmosphere as well.”

Going into the interview I knew that Kavanagh and Harding had a common opponent, but what I didn’t know was that Harding barely had any time to prepare to face Blencowe.

“I took the Arlene fight up on like two weeks notice and it was a very quick finish for me to get knocked out. I can’t necessarily compare the fights themselves, but I have trained with Arlene as well, which can kind of outline the fact that our strengths are very similar. Our striking in a general sense is very similar. I just have a different kind of technique and a different kind of game plan in comparison.”

It was only natural to follow up and find out if Harding and Blencowe were friends before and/or after their fight back in 2017.

“We were friends before. Obviously, the MMA fight scene in Australia isn’t very large and we’d fought on the same card before early in my career. We have a lot of mutual friends and stuff so yeah we had just been friends for a while and we had known each other. We took the fight up and we were still friends when we were fighting each other. We were in rehearsals sitting next to each other looking at Instagram videos the night before we were fighting each other. We’re gonna always be friends and we stayed friends, obviously after the fight even more so, and I think we’ll continue to do even if we have a rematch in the cards, which is definitely possible.”

Hindsight being 20/20, though, Harding wishes she had longer to prepare to face her friend.

“It was a kind of a funny part of my life where I was going through a lot of change in my personal life, and I was trying to move forward and dedicate a lot to this MMA career that I had started. I felt like I wasn’t getting a lot of opportunities and a lot of opponents so when one did come along I jumped at the idea of it. I really believed in myself no matter what but a couple more weeks and it would have made a massive difference.”

That’s why Harding is confident that we haven’t seen her best yet, and that a full camp for Kavanagh has made even better than her three knockout wins to date.

“I got matched up about six weeks ago from today so I’ve had plenty of time for this camp and I’ve been able to really establish a good camp here in Sydney. This time around as well (I’ve) added a couple more gyms and a couple more people on board for strength and conditioning, and extra things that I didn’t even have for my May camp. I’m looking forward to how that shows in the fight, for sure.”

What kind of fight can fans expect from Janay Harding vs. Sinead Kavanagh in Uncasville this weekend?

“I definitely think it will be a stand up fight, but not necessarily a war. I’m not going to get caught in any brawls like I have done in the past and like Sinead would prefer. You can kind of see from her fights that she likes being on the inside and she likes closing those heavy shots and that gives her the finish. I’m going to obviously avoid that. My striking is just a little bit more varied and there’s more variety in it. I’ll be able to use that to my advantage and I’ll be able to use my reach as well. I think it will be a stand up war, but not necessarily in a brawling kind of way, and I think there will be a finish for sure.”

That means Harding vs. Kavanagh is a fight not to be missed on Friday night.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Mitrione vs. Bader” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts