NEW YORK – While basking in the glow of victory over Sebastian Ruiz in a bantamweight (135 pounds) preliminary fight during Bellator 222 on Friday night, Mike Kimbel was regaling the scrum of reporters at his post-match press conference about a former teacher that doubted his dream of becoming a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
While a student at Crosby High, Kimbel gave a presentation about the battle to legalize MMA in New York and Connecticut. His teacher joked that he had a better chance of reaching the NFL than Kimbel did becoming a professional fighter.
Standing in a back area of Madison Square Garden, Kimbel still hadn’t forgotten the slight. The significance was not lost on the 22-year-old from Waterbury.
“It was a bit unreal walking in the streets, looking at the Garden out of my hotel room like, ‘I said I was going to do this and I’m doing it at 22 on the biggest stage with probably the most pressure any teenager – not even teenager, I forget, sometimes I think I am – that any 22-year-old can go through,” he said.
Alton Meeks was two days away from basic training and set on spending time with family before heading off to join the military. The former high school wrestler and Division I football player at Iowa State and Northern Illinois was going to join the U.S. Army wrestling team and had designs on making his way up the Olympic ladder as part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
Last Oct. 2, Meeks and his father, Sanford, had just taken cows to market near their home in central Florida and were on their way to see relatives. Driving on East Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland, their Chevrolet pickup was struck in a head-on collision.
Adam Borics believes fans need to slow down when talking about Aaron Pico.
Borics, an undefeated featherweight who meets Pico at Bellator 222, said Pico is a “good fighter” but people think too highly of him. Bellator 222 takes place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“He has two or three good knockouts, but I think he is overrated,” Borics told Bloody Elbow. “Maybe he got too much hype. Maybe he got the most hype ever. I never saw like this, ‘Oh, he’s the future’ and everything. He got the knockouts and they are pushing him. I just want to show the world who deserves the hype.”
New York, NY – Adam Borics is off to great start in his career. The Hungarian is 12-0 with eight finishes. He’s really showcased his abilities since joining Bellator, winning by rear-naked choke twice, and a flying knee in three appearances. Now he’ll get his toughest test against top prospect Aaron Pico, but the result will be the same in his eyes.
“I’m going to finish him. I’m a finisher, I’m going to finish him.”
Aaron Pico has had the spotlight on him since his MMA career began, and will be looking to recover from a loss at Bellator 222. On the other side, this can be Borics’ coming-out party after quietly amassing his 12-0 record.
“I don’t care about it. He gets a lot of hype, and if I get this hype, I can say that ‘oh, I don’t need this, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do commercial, I don’t want to do this.’ But I understand this. I’m just thinking about the fight. Maybe it’s easier if I don’t [have the hype].”
If the hype does come, however, Borics says “I’m ready for that.”
Borics started his run with Bellator in the best way possible, fighting in his home country of Hungary twice before making his American debut last year. While he’s well-known in Hungary, the rest of the world is about to catch up.
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No fighter ever wants to suffer their first loss, but in the world of combat sports it’s not always about winning or losing, more so about what can be learned from both winning and losing. Just a month before he turned 22 years-old, Mike Kimbel suffered his first professional loss in his career to John Douma.
While the fight didn’t go his way, Kimbel now prepares to take on Sebastian Ruiz at Bellator 222 which takes place on Friday, June 14, at Madison Square Garden. Kimbel spoke to MyMMANews about suffering his first loss, the lessons learned from that fight, how he’s going to bounce back at MSG, and why he’s focused on fighting for himself now.
For some fighters, all that matters to them is winning or losing inside the cage, but for Mike Kimbel, who is always focused on winning, every chance he gets inside the cage, is another opportunity for him to learn.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans is making his way to the UFC Hall of Fame.
Over the weekend the UFC announced that Evans, the winner of season two of The Ultimate Fighter, will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Modern Wing’ as a member of the class of 2019.
The 2019 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, will take place on Friday, July 5, at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
“Rashad and I have been close since season two of The Ultimate Fighter and we’ve had an amazing relationship,” UFC President Dana White said.
“It has been fun to see him succeed and grow as a fighter, become a world champion and then a respected coach for up and coming fighters, and then to see him retire last year. I love to see him still involved with UFC. I couldn’t be prouder of Rashad than I am right now with him being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.”
Evans will join Forrest Griffin (2013), BJ Penn (2015), Urijah Faber (2017), Ronda Rousey (2018) and Michael Bisping (2019).
Robin Van Roosmalen, a former champion in two weight classes with Glory Kickboxing, has signed with Bellator MMA.
Bellator President Scott Coker announced the signing via Twitter on Tuesday. Van Roosmalen’s deal is exclusively for mixed martial arts, so he will not compete in Bellator Kickboxing, according to a promotion official. While Coker hinted that van Roosmalen would take part in the promotion’s upcoming featherweight grand prix, the Dutch fighter’s participation in the bracket has not been finalized.
Van Roosmalen was the first fighter two win two titles for Glory Kickboxing, capturing crowns at featherweight and lightweight. He announced at the end of last year that he would be transitioning to MMA on a full-time basis. Van Roosmalen has been training at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., under the guidance of Henri Hooft and others.
A black belt in judo, van Rossmalen has gone 2-0 in MMA, winning both of his bouts via technical knockout. The 29-year-old last competed in MMA in March 2017. He owns a 51-17-3 mark as a professional kickboxer.
Martin Nguyen has become an international star over the last five years. Training out of Hardknocks 365 with other world champions like Kamaru Usman and Aung La Nsang has done wonders for the 30-year-old Vietnamese-Australian. “The Situ-Asian” is the first fighter in the history of ONE Championship to hold two titles simultaneously. He even famously went for a third title but was unable to pull it off.
Now, seemingly set on building his legacy at featherweight, Nguyen has successfully defended the title twice.
Here are his five most memorable moments in ONE Championship so far.
Nguyen was 3-0 as a professional when he debuted in ONE. His first fight in the new organization would be against Rocky Batolbatol who himself was a perfect 5-0 at the time.
The two undefeated combatants would meet at ONE FC 22: Battle of Lions.
The fight was back and forth affair. Batolbatol landed some solid punches on the advancing Nguyen. Nguyen would have some success with his takedowns and on the ground. He even partially landed an ill-intended soccer kick as Batolbatol was getting up.
Another GLORY alum is making his way to the big MMA stage.
On Tuesday, Bellator president Scott Coker announced the signing of Robin van Roosmalen. Coker also indicated that van Roosmalen, who held GLORY titles at both lightweight and featherweight, could be part of Bellator’s 145-pound tournament (via Twitter).
Roosmalen just announced his full-time transition from kickboxing to MMA last December, but he’s already got two pro MMA bouts on his record. And so far, so good: He finished both of them at Final Fight Championship (FFC) in impressive fashion.
At FFC 22, in February 2016, Roosmalen scored a second-round knockout of Theo Michailidis. In March 2017, at FFC 28, he kept his streak with a first-round knockout of Risto Dimitrov. (You can check out both fights in the videos below and above.)
Despite his short MMA record, Roosmalen (2-0) said in an interview with ESPN last year that he had been training in the sport for five years. At the time, the 29-year-old fighter from the Netherlands was representing Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Aaron Pico now has an opponent for his return to New York.
The top up-and-comer will face Adam Borics at Bellator 222 on June 14 at Madison Square Garden, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Pico (4-2) is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Henry Corrales at Bellator 214 in January. That defeat snapped a four-fight winning streak, all of which were first-round knockouts. The California native is regarded as one of the best blue-chip prospects in MMA history, though he has had two rocky outings in six career fights.