Month: June 2018

Careers in mixed martial arts have peaks and valleys, just like any other professional sport. True talents with staying power learn to evolve. Bellator MMA mainstay Linton Vassell finds himself in a position where change has become necessary to remain relevant. As such, he plans to move from 205 pounds to heavyweight.

Vassell has been a stalwart of Bellator’s light heavyweight division since the promotion signed him in August 2013. He was with the company as it changed formats and leadership, and he has been a 205-pound title contender during both the Bjorn Rebney and Scott Coker eras. However, similar to what he saw the company do a few years ago, he too finds himself in a transition to something new. In an era where so many veteran fighters — Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans and Wanderlei Silva, to name a few — often choose to go down a division late in their careers, Vassell is making the sensible decision to move up in weight.

“I’m 35 now,” he told “I wouldn’t say the weight cut was hard, but I feel like it’s time to start a new journey.”

For a man who stands 6-foot-4 and often walks around at 235 pounds, the decision to head to heavyweight made a lot of sense. Cutting weight at the backend of a career only gets more difficult.

“I feel like it’ll work better for me,” Vassell said.

As a light heavyweight, his camps usually spanned eight weeks, in part so he could slowly work off the 30 pounds to make the 205-pound limit. Competing at heavyweight would require a six-week camp, meaning far less wear and tear on his body. Vassell’s early light heavyweight bouts raised his profile in the United Kingdom and ultimately drew Bellator’s attention.

“I found that I had more success in the light heavyweight division,” he said, “so I carried on, won a few belts in the UK and got signed by Bellator.”

However, Vassell admits his efforts to capture 205-pound gold in Bellator have run their course. Recent losses to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis affirmed that reality.

“Unfortunately, the two big losses that I just had definitely helped me make the decision,” Vassell said. “I’ve always wanted to go back to heavyweight. I used to fight heavyweight when I was first starting off.”

Vassell claims that over the years he has let Bellator officials know of his interest in returning to the heavyweight division, yet he was never given ideas for potential opponents. He thinks he will settle in at his fighting weight of 240 pounds once he returns to twice-a-day training. While bulking up does not ensure he will be able to compete with some of the promotion’s biggest heavyweights, Vassell does not sound the least bit concerned.

“I feel like I’ve got the grappling, the striking [and] the power [to compete],” he said. “I feel like I’m going to be a great addition to the heavyweight division.”

Vassell draws his confidence from the work he puts in at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There, he trains alongside the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Matt Mitrione, the 6-foot-11, 266-pound Stefan Struve and the 6-foot-8, 238-pound Steve Mowry. Vassell believes his grappling skills will prove vital to any success he enjoys as a heavyweight.

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The Bellator heavyweight division just got a lot bigger.

MMAjunkie today verified with a Bellator official that the promotion has inked 6-foot-8 heavyweight Steven Mowry to an exclusive multi-fight contract.

Mowry (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) also posted a photo on social media of him signing the contract (via Instagram):

Mowry, 25, is less than two years into his professional MMA career. He’s off to a hot start, winning all four of his fights by stoppage, with each victory coming via a different method.

Training out of Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mowry has fought all of his bouts under the Titan FC banner. His most recent fight was a second-round TKO of Said Sowma at Titan FC 49 in April.

Mowry said he’s not yet sure when he will make his Bellator debut. However, he did share a comment to MMAjunkie thanking those around him for helping him take a prominent step forward in his career.

“I would like to thank God, my coaches and teammates past and present,” Mowry said. “And the countless people who make my dreams possible.”

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HK365 Mention Below:

Forward pressure makes opponents nervous, puts them on the defense and has them reacting to you. Pace also creates mental pressure on your opponent to keep up or slow down. Physical pressure against the cage and on top can be used as a compliance measure or to inflict damage.

Either way, it chips away at their will to continue and makes them want to quit. Stay relentless with your pace and pressure, and you may not even need to make it to the next step.

At UFC 225, Colby Covington pushed a relentless pressure on Rafael dos Anjos that was not returned, ultimately . breaking the former champ.

Anyone fighting under Henri Hooft at Hard Knocks 365 will put a relentless forward pressure on you, and using simple striking, they will make it look easy finishing you.

Check out how Hard Knock’s fighter Gilbert Burns used forward pressure to earn a ferocious knockout at UFC Glendale. There’s nothing fancy about the strikes themselves, but coupled with Burns’ relentless pace and pressure, there was nowhere for his opponent to go but down.

Kamaru Usman followed the blueprint for beating Demian Maia, much like Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington before him.

“The Ultimate Fighter 21” winner shut off Maia’s takedowns, forced the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to engage him on the feet and picked him apart with punches, as he moved one step closer to title contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division with a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 129 headliner on Saturday at the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. All three cageside judges struck scorecards in Usman’s favor: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.

Maia misfired on all 15 of his takedown attempts, according to preliminary FightMetric data. It continues a troubling trend for the decorated grappler. During his current three-fight losing streak, Maia has gone 0-for-49 on takedowns against Woodley, Covington and Usman, depleting his gas tank and leaving him as little more than a sitting duck. Usman capitalized, as he outperformed the Brazilian in terms of significant strikes landed (66-27) and total strikes landed (97-33).

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Maia vs. Usman,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Kamaru Usman vs. Stephen Thompson-Darren Till winner: No one can rationally deny Usman as a legitimate threat to the welterweight throne. The Hard Knocks 365 representative has rattled off 12 straight wins, pairing six finishes with six unanimous decisions in an extended run of dominance. Defeating a two-time title contender like Maia, even at 40, affords Usman much-needed leverage at 170 pounds and pushes his stellar UFC record to 8-0. Thompson and Till will tangle in the UFC Fight Night 130 main event on May 27 in Liverpool, England.

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