Bellator 134: The British Invasion goes down this Friday (February 27, 2015) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main event features 205-pound champion, Emanuel Newton (25-7-1), taking on undefeated Englishman, Liam McGeary (9-0).
Newton is on an impressive seven-fight win streak that includes two wins over former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. A seasoned veteran of 33 professional fights, “The Hardcore Kid” is as hardened as they come. The champion has been finished just three times in his career, the most recent of those in 2009. With two successful defences of the light heavyweight title in the bag, Newton will look to make it a hat-trick on Friday.
The challenger, McGeary, is on an impressive streak of his own. Undefeated and with six successive first round finishes, he will be looking to extend his unbeaten run inside the cage. Entering the fight on the back of his Bellator 2014 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament win, McGeary has finished all nine of his fights inside the distance.
By contrast, Newton hasn’t been finished in almost six years. The champion is gritty and highly unorthodox. From a technical standpoint his striking is weak, but he incorporates unusual techniques that often catch his opponents off guard. One of his favourite weapons – the spinning backfist – has yielded him considerable success. He put this unconventional strike to use in his recent KO victory over Joey Beltran, as well as when he starched “King Mo” back in 2013. The champion’s unusual style makes him a precarious opponent, and McGeary will need to be alert to avoid getting knocked out.
McGeary is more technical on his feet than Newton. He hits hard too; more than half of his wins have come by knockout. At 6′ 6″, the challenger is unusually tall for the weight class and will aim to make use of his considerable reach advantage. If he’s smart, he’ll look to stay on the outside and avoid the spinning techniques of “The Hardcore Kid”. If the Englishman can manage this, he should come out on top in the stand-up exchanges.
On the mat, McGeary is the more unorthodox of the two. He uses his length well to create leverage and constantly throws his legs up when fighting off his back. In his most recent outing, against Kelly Anundson, Bellator commentators seemed baffled by McGeary’s efforts from side control on the bottom. They remarked on his lack of hip movement and how he wasn’t attempting to regain guard. With the first round coming to a close, though, McGeary slapped on a slick inverted triangle à la Braulio Estima. With arguably the best submission of 2014, McGeary got the win and now he’s got his title shot. Newton wont be tapped easily, though. He’s been submitted just twice in his career. He’s also got excellent functional MMA wrestling and as many submission victories as McGeary has fights.
So, what will the outcome be when Newton’s improvisational striking meets McGeary’s unorthodox grappling? How will it go down when the man who hasn’t gone the distance since turning pro in 2010 takes on the man who hasn’t been finished since 2009? Tune in to Spike on Friday night to find out.