Bellator MMA recently held a conference call featuring the main and co-main event for Friday night’s Bellator 155 event.
Check out highlights below from the call, with comments by Bellator president Scott Coker, middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho, challenger Melvin Manhoef, Pat Curran and Georgi Karakhanyan.
“We’re excited to be in Boise, fighting at the Century Link Arena. I think this is a fight town that has been hungry for a big MMA promotion and we’re proud to be the first to do it. We’ve got a great middleweight world title fight between Carvalho and Manhoef… Carvalho is coming off of a big win with a KO over Brandon Halsey and undoubtedly this fight is going to have a bunch of fireworks between both of these guys.”
On the fight between Curran and Karakhanyan…
“I definitely think that this fight has some title implications but we always like to see how the fight pans out…honestly if this is something that’s exciting and a barn burner and if this fight can stand on its own feet, it very well could be.”
On if a Bellator bonus structure is going to come to fruition in the future…
“It is something we’re working on but we’re just a little bit different, because we’re a premium TV model so it’s something that has been considered, but right now it’s something that is still just in dialogue.”
“I am excited and really think this could be historical. It’s going to be a lot of strikes and it’s going to be a kickboxing fight with MMA gloves.”
“Every fight you’ve got to show what you got. In this fight, it’s going to be no different [now that I’m a champ]. I’m going to show everything I’ve got and I am always looking forward to the next fight.
“People recognize me more now and I have gained more respect now as the champion…Winning the belt for the first time is one thing, but the real deal is when you defend the belt and keep the belt. That’s when you become the real champion.
On overcoming challenges of living in Rio…
“There are good people as well as bad but the only thing that is going to dictate your future is you and how hard you work for it. It doesn’t matter where you live or what kind of clothing you wear, if you put your mind into it and are willing to work hard for it.
“I look forward to making a kickboxing with small gloves. I am prepared for anything so it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen. I am looking forward to being there and doing what I do best, which is the striking, so for me it’s very nice that he wants to do the kickboxing in the cage with me.
Do you feel like people are counting you out heading into this fight?
“I don’t know what people are thinking but it all depends on what me and my team think and the fans who are supporting me think. I feel like the fight is still in me and I showed it at my last fight. I trained real hard for this fight and my goal is to show it again that you cannot count me out… You know my fight style; I do everything to knock people out so I am glad if [Carvalho] wants to make a kick boxing fight out of it.”
What would winning the Bellator title mean to you?
“It means a lot, with all of the hard work and a lot of people writing me off, but I think this is like a new era or new beginning for me and I could become a world champion. I think that being a fighter that’s been in the business so long, it has been an achievement already.”
“I am really excited to step in there on Friday and put on a dominant performance. I have made a lot of changes in my life, in my camp and everything is falling into place right now and I’m excited to showcase that on Friday.”
Do the stakes of this fight change for you as they would for a title?
“I feel like every fight at this point in your career, especially in this division is do-or-die and if you win you’re going to get that much pull-through coming or having the chance to fight for the title again and I feel like over and over George and I have been that much closer to another title shot.”
“I can’t wait for Friday night. I am going out there with nothing to lose, just going 100 percent and fighting my fight and come out with a victory.”
On this being a potential title eliminator and going up against two-time champ Curran…
“I know everybody is talking about the title but to me I don’t think about that, right now I have a good opponent in front of me with Pat Curran, a former champion and I can’t ask for a better opponent than him. I am very excited, I cannot wait and I am ready to put on a great show and I’m for sure coming out with my hands right.”
On coming back from surgery and making adjustments…
“I treat everything the same, I got about five surgeries last year and the last surgery was just a meniscus tear but after that, Bellator took good care of me. They put me in a very good rehab place and I’ve started my training and feel 100 percent.”