The co-main event of Friday’s Bellator 130 main card on Spike TV will be a heavyweight bout as Karl Etherington looks to remain undefeated as he meets Bobby Lashley.
Etherington (9-0) made his Bellator debut last year and all of his professional mixed martial arts fight have ended in the first round.
Prior to entering the sport of mixed martial arts, he was a British Junior Champion in Judo, British Sambo Champion (both Combat and Sport Sambo), European BJJ Champion (blue belt and no-gi), and British BJJ Champion (gi and no-gi). He took his first professional mixed martial arts bout in September of 2010 and recently talked about his journey into the sport of mixed martial arts.
“After I didn’t get the final selection for the Olympic squad in Judo, I took an offer to fight pro MMA,” Etherington said. “Prior to that, the British Judo Association always took a dim view on the sport of MMA. So I decided that it would work itself out if I took the opportunity in MMA, and that’s the way it went. I felt confident stepping into MMA because of my varied background in martial arts, and I proved I was a good fit in my first few fights.”
“Being a multi-disciplined athlete, I used what I was good at against their weaknesses. One was a good British-level K-1 guy and I knew I had to take that fight to the floor, so I slammed him. The big Polish guy I fought, Tomas Vaicickas, I knew his strong point was ground-and-pound, and I saw him in earlier fight and didn’t think too much of his chin. So I took it right to him and put him to sleep. I try to choose my better disciplines for each particular opponent.”
Etherington’s Bellator MMA debut came at the beginning of last year as he defeated Jason Fish by TKO at the 3:45 mark of the opening round. It would only be one of two fights for him in 2013 as his other fight came in July of last year, which was a disqualification win against Harry Duivan Junior.
His fight on Friday night will be his first fight since defeating Duvian Junior, which was 454 days ago. Why has Etherington been inactive for the last 14 months? The answer is simple as Etherington says injuries are the cause of his inactivity.
“To be honest, last year I only fought twice,” he said. “I was supposed to fight Raphael Butler. I had a bad year of silly injuries. I took a fight as a warm-up fight against a guy who didn’t have a big MMA record, but he was a really tough guy. His name was Harry Duiven Jr. from Holland. I knew Raphael Butler had a boxing background and Harry Duiven Jr. was a WBC junior champion. He was a successful pro boxer and I was well aware that he’d been training with the likes of Alistair Overeem and such over in Holland.”
“So I thought that would be a good way to get back into it. I still won the fight, but I got injured during it, I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t feel like my preparation was right. Again it held me back and I’d already had a bad year, so I’m very motivated right now. That’s why I got into Sambo, just to reignite me into combat sports.”
His matchup against Lashley is a fight that Etherington says is going to be like a train crash. Two athletes that are not going to hold anything back and one train is going to be stronger than the other.
“Bobby Lashley has good skills. I think he’s a slower starter than me though,” Etherington said. We won’t be leaving anything in the locker room. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight to watch. As far as my conditioning, I took this fight on six weeks notice and my main focus for this fight has been cardio.”
“My last fight in Bellator was the worst performance I’ve had. But from the minute I got on the plane, it took us 30 hours to reach America. There were a lot of delays and we were stuck in Chicago. From the minute I got into Michigan, it was two hours between getting there and fighting. I was in no physical condition to take the fight, but I took it because I was there. So I was tired before that fight even started.”
For the fans that tune into this fight on Friday night, along with this fight being a train crash, Etherington believes this will be an explosive fight that will not be decided by the judges.
“The fans should expect a train crash,” Etherington said. “This is two big guys who are going to hit each other on the head. This fight will be explosive and I don’t expect to see three rounds of action. It will something where people don’t want to blink because I’m going out there to put him out early.”