Two weeks ago, it was announced that Linton Vassell will get his second opportunity to fight for the Bellator light heavyweight title when he takes on Ryan Bader at Bellator 186 on November 3.
Getting The Nod
Vassell put himself in the title mix after picking up his third win on the bounce in May when he defeated fellow Brit, Liam McGeary. Despite his dominant performance, Bellator took their time announcing he would be the next man to challenge for the title, but according to Vassell, he always felt pretty confident he’d be the man to get the nod.
“When I asked Scott [Coker], he told me that it was pretty likely that it was going to be me, but I did hear a few rumours about maybe Mo [Lawal] getting it,” Vassell said, speaking exclusively to MMAUNO.com.
“As soon as I heard that I got onto my managers and they sorted it out pretty quick. I know Bader wanted it as well. I’m not too sure what happened in the background there, but finally I got nod and everyone seemed to be happy with the fight.”
Both Vassell and Bader have been going back and forth over social media for the past few months so there’s no shortage of needle between the pair. Vassell explained their feud started before Bader had even signed for Bellator.
“He disrespected me back at around Christmas time last year,” Vassell said. “We heard he was going to come to over so I put out a post saying let me be the first guy to introduce him to Bellator. He came back with a stupid comment saying ‘Who the f*** are you?’ He knows who I am. He showed me disrespect and if that’s the way he wants to go then so be it. I’m not going to be treated like and idiot. He’s going to find out come November what I’m all about.”
More Than A Match On The Mat
Vassell wasn’t impressed by Bader’s Bellator debut and he feels that he’s a predictable opponent. The American is known for his strong wrestling, but Vassell believes he can more than match him on the mat.
“Everyone has seen Bader’s fights and I’m not being funny, he’s a bit of bore,” Vassell said. “He’s going to take you down and lay on you. He’s not got a high finish ratio and you know that’s not my style. I go in there to bust up heads and finish people. I can finish people on the ground, striking, anywhere. I’m not fussed.
“He’s got decent wrestling, but everyone that knows me knows that I’ve got a fantastic ground game. I put it all together. The only way I seem him getting it done is a lucky overhand and we all know that at championship level it’s nothing to do with luck.”
Feeling The Love Of The Fans
Vassell’s last win over McGeary was in front of his own fans in the UK and it was one of the most complete performances of his career. The Milton Keynes man says he’s felt the love from the fans ever since and he believes he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.
“Everything went to plan against Liam and I knew for a long time I would be fighting him at some point,” Vassell said. “Even when I first signed to Bellator I knew it would happen and me and my coaches would always be talking about what we would do when I fight him. When it happened it all came together. I couldn’t have written the way it ended more perfectly.”
“After that win I really feel like I started to get the recognition I deserved. As soon as I got that I was being shown a lot more love by people and I had people messaging me saying well done and all that. It was great to have so many people pushing for me to fight for the title and as soon as it got announced it blew up with people congratulating me and that. Much love to everyone that’s followed me and are wishing me good luck.”
Putting It All On The Line
While happy with his win over McGeary, Vassell is promising he’s not just there to make numbers up on November 3. He’s going there to take the belt home and he’s promising he’s going to do everything in his power to make it happen.
“I’m so ready for this now” Vassell said. “This isn’t like I’ve just settled for fighting for the title win or lose.
“I’m going in there ready to die and put it all on the line for the title.”
“There’s going to be no coasting at any point and I’m going to put the pressure on, break him, and then finish him.
“He’s going to get bullied on November 3.”