Tag Archive for Youth

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.

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UFC 152: ‘Discredited’ Jon Jones believes youth a ‘tremendous’ advantage against older Vitor Belfort

Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones reacts to beating Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Jon Jones won the bout by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

In the professional sports world, public relations is a fickle business. One minute, you’re on top of the world, and you can do no wrong. The next, you can just as easily find yourself under a barrage of hatred and criticism. All it takes is one little mistake. Any more than that, and you’re simply flying too close to the sun, begging to have your wings burned off.

Thus has been the case for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, who went from “media darling” to the fighter every mixed martial arts (MMA) fan loves to hate in a matter of several months.

Whether the vitriol is merited or not, all it took was dropping an unconscious Lyoto Machida on his head at UFC 140, drunk driving into a light pole and allegedly causing the first cancelled event in UFC history, and the “poster boy” became the scapegoat and the villain of the entire promotion.

Or so it would seem.

Heading into UFC 152, which is set to take place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sat., Sept. 22, 2012, “Bones” will be the prohibitive favorite, but it’s likely that the majority of fans will be cheering for his opponent, MMA legend and fan favorite, Vitor Belfort.

It won’t be the first time Jones will have had to overcome an obstacle, and it’s a role he’s starting to become accustomed to. He’s aware of the fact that he’ll be facing a dangerous opponent, but he has a message for his haters:

Don’t forget that he’s dangerous, too:

During an interview with AXS TV’s “Inside MMA,” Jones talked about how he matches up with “The Phenom.” He’s aware of the challenger’s speed, but he takes a bit of umbrage when people bring up the idea and forget that he’s not exactly a turtle either:

“His hand speed is definitely something that he has, but I believe I’m really fast, too. A lot of people discredit me for a lot of things. A lot of people who are unfamiliar with MMA just blame it on me being long. But, there’s a lot more than being long that has contributed to my success, and speed is one of my advantages, as well. Where Vitor is fast, I believe I’m really fast, as well. We can’t forget that he has a Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt, which is a very legitimate black belt. So, that ground game, definitely. I’ve gotta be on my ‘p’s and q’s.’ But, speed, I think I match up really well. Power, he might have an edge on me there. It’s gonna be a great fight to watch, for sure.”

Experience is another topic that has been brought up, leading up to this fight. It’s nothing new, as the critics have brought up a lack of experience before just about every one of Jones’ bouts.

As far as the young champ is concerned, the amount of fights and the career length disparity simply means he will be going into Saturday night’s title fight as the hungrier competitor:

“That doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me. I don’t have any plans of losing any time soon. I always work really hard to stay on top of the game and be innovative in my own, personal game. I believe the guy that will beat me is probably in high school, right now, working his butt off to be where I’m at, today. That will probably be the guy that surpasses me. A lot of quote-unquote: ‘experienced fighters’ are just older men. I believe that with my youth and lack of experience comes a certain amount of ambition and drive. I’m excited about being the younger fighter, and I think it plays to my advantage, tremendously.”

If Jones is able to beat Belfort at UFC 152, it will be just another legendary notch in his already full belt. Should he win, the cry for a “superfight” between him and UFC Middleweight Champion will only grow louder.

Jones is aware of the public demand for such a contest to take place, but he also knows there are a lot of other stars that need to align before that could ever happen.

When asked about the possibility of that fight ever taking place, Jones stayed diplomatic, citing his need to stay focused on the opponent currently in front of him:

“I’m really excited for Anderson Silva versus ‘GSP.’ I think ‘GSP’ has a tall order in front of him with Silva and Carlos Condit. Anderson Silva’s also facing Stephan Bonnar, right now. In this crazy sport of MMA, anything’s possible. It’s kinda hard to predict the future and see everything going perfectly for both of these fighters. But, as far as entertaining a fight with Anderson Silva, I have a hard time looking past Vitor Belfort. He’s a great legend and a great fighter. I would never want to look past him into my future like that. I know it’s a cliche answer, but Vitor’s a very respectable guy. Maybe that’s a topic we can go back to after this fight.”

For all the latest gossip, news and up-to-date fight line up for UFC 152: “Jones vs. Belfort” click here.


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