Bellator 172: “Fedor vs. Mitrione” comes to SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 18, 2017), featuring a main event between Heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko’s return to the United States to take on Matt Mitrione. That fight, however, will to compete for the loudest reaction with a hometown hero, Josh Thomson, taking his third Bellator fight in Spike TV’s co-main event.
Thomson was successful in both of his fights when he jumped ship from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Bellator MMA in 2015, but he was sidelined by an injury in 2016 right as he was on the verge of challenging “Iron” Mike Chandler for the 155-pound title. To get back to the title fight, San Jose’s own will throw down against Patricky Freire in the friendly confines of the “Shark Tank.” With 10 out of 16 wins by knockout, though, Freire is not an easy “Pitbull” to tame.
In a recent interview with MMAmania.com, Thomson talks about his interrupted 2016 and his plans to get right back on track in 2017, as well as reclaiming his long-awaited Bellator Lightweight title shot.
“I feel good, okay right now, I’ve got a couple little injuries, but nothing major, and you know we’re just going to see what happens. It’s going to be a tough fight — the guy’s strong (and) he’s got big power. I can’t afford to stand in the pocket and trade too much, you know? I don’t want to get hit with one of those huge punches. So right now I’ve just got to fight smart, be safe about it, and pretty much all the hard training is done. We’re just getting ready for the fight.”
Thomson also wants you to know that he hasn’t vacated the No. 1 contender spot in his long absence — it always has been his … and it still is.
“I don’t need to regain anything. I could have sat out and just waited for the title shot. The title shot was offered to me — right now.”
Right now — as in this weekend? Yes, according to Thomson, who claims he was originally supposed to fight Chandler on this card, but that the bout just didn’t come to fruition.
“Chandler’s the one that turned it down. It was supposed to be me and Chandler before the Fedor fight, but he turned it out, so let’s make sure that that’s clear.”
That’s not the only thing Thomson wants to clarify about this upcoming fight.
“Second thing is, I don’t consider myself having to fight to find myself back into title contention at all. Honestly, I look at ‘Pitbull’ as a dangerous fighter, I feel that I can beat him. I had originally said ‘yes’ to the title shot, I didn’t say ‘yes’ to fighting anybody else, but then they called me and said, ‘Hey, we still want you to fight on this card’ even though it was only five weeks away. I took the fight on short notice.”
Something else needs to be clarified: Why would Thomson — who is by his own definition still No. 1 — put that at risk against what he classifies as a “dangerous fighter” on short notice? Isn’t that a lose/lose scenario?
“They said, ‘Well how do you feel about ‘Pitbull’? I just told myself, ‘How am I going to miss out, on being on Bellator’s biggest card that they’ve ever had?’ This is the biggest card Bellator has ever put together, with the biggest and most famous athlete who has ever done MMA. This guy is huge man. I mean, like, Fedor is one of the … people call him the G.O.A.T., you know? I mean it’s debatable, but he’s definitely one of the top guys to be considered the G.O.A.T.”
We’ve heard this already, though. The “Ortiz vs Sonnen” bout was called the biggest show and biggest fight of the year, too. As for this figh,t Thomson knows Freire’s reputation as a knockout artist and won’t take it for granted.
“Yeah, you just gotta be careful. That’s the biggest thing, I’ve got to be careful. He’s got good kicks, he doesn’t use them as much as he could. He’s obviously got power in his hands, just don’t stand directly in front of him! That’s the biggest thing. Get in, get out, maybe create some angles, do whatever it is, but you’ve got to make sure you’re not standing there when he throws that big punch.”
Thomson would probably offer Mitrione the same advice about fighting Emelianenko later in the main event.
“Fedor is not a big guy. He’s fighting at Heavyweight, he could potentially fight at 205. I think he walks around like 230, 235. He’s not a big guy, he’s just got big power. He’s got great Sambo, good throws, those are the things people need to remember. This fight’s going to be exciting. Matt’s going to come out, try to stick and move, catch him with a big punch, but Fedor’s got the power and I think he’s got the edge on the grappling. It’s going to be a great fight, and the fact we’re on the card is going to make this card even more exciting.”
One last thing before we go: After seeing his last fight, Thomson’s pretty sure he’s got Chandler figured out.
“He had no gas, he was gassed out, he was gassed out after the first round. Second and third round went to Benson, almost like he took those rounds off, and then in the fourth round he kind of came back a little bit then he was gassed again. The fifth round all he did was hold Benson down and basically just hug his leg and his body. Give him credit just for being strong enough to hold him down, but I think he was afraid of that coming into this fight (with me) knowing that if it came to the fifth round I have the conditioning and cardio to push through that, and that’s a tough fight for him.”
Don’t miss Bellator 172 to see what Thomson feels are two great fights on top. Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.
Source:: mma mania