Lorenz Larkin may not feel like the most prestigious name to move over from the UFC to Bellator in recent months. But, as an exciting welterweight right in the prime of his career he may be set to have the biggest impact.
When Lorenz Larkin sparked out Neil Magny at UFC 202 with a series of elbows it seemed he was making a line for the UFC title. There was talk about that win being the last fight on his contract and him being interested in testing free agency, but off a performance like that and with the exciting style to go with it, the idea that he’d actually be gone seemed a remote one.
Seven months later and here we are.
“The Monsoon” officially put pen to paper on his new Bellator contract back in mid-March. Shortly afterward the promotion announced that their newly aquired welterweight talent was going to be getting an immediate shot at the title. Larkin will battle current champion Douglas Lima for the 170 strap at Bellator 180 on June 24th in New York. It’s one of several bouts scheduled for Bellator’s second PPV offering, headlined by Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva.
It’s a big platform to make your debut with a promotion. And it’s a move that even surprised Larkin, as he told the assembled press at a recent presser for the PPV event (transcript via MMA Junkie).
“I was pumped, but I was surprised,” Larkin told reporters. “I wasn’t thinking about (a championship fight) in the slightest bit. Once it was offered to me, I was ecstatic. I was pumped. Now I’m going to be ready.”
“We were just focused on getting the deal done, and then not too long ago I got the call and they asked me if I was interested,” Larkin said. “I said, ‘That’s a no-brainer.’ I’ve been wanting to fight. It’s been a while since I fought and now I’m here. Who would I say no to Madison Square Garden?”
Lima is coming off a November 2016 KO over Andrey Koreshkov, a win that regained him the title that he lost to Koreshkov back in July of 2015. Neither Larkin nor Lima have fought in 2017 yet, and this bout will mark nearly a year layoff for Riverside, California based fighter.
Bellator 180 is expected to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. The card is also set to feature the promotional debut of heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko as he takes on former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione. A lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Brent Primus rounds out the PPV card.