23-year-old Andrey Koreshkov will return to the Bellator cage this Friday at Bellator 112 to compete against Nah-Shon Burrell in the opening round of season ten’s welterweight tournament.
Having won season seven’s welterweight bracket, Koreshkov is no stranger to Bellator’s tournaments, but the promotion’s welterweight championship has still been able to elude the Russian.
In what was Bellator’s most recent welterweight championship fight, Koreshkov came up short at Bellator 97, getting finished by Ben Askren in the fourth round. The loss to Askren was devastating for a young fighter like Koreshkov that had never faced defeat before.
“I was very disappointed in myself following my last fight,” Koreshkov said. “Mostly because I didn’t show anything in that fight.”
The way a person handles their first, significant setback varies form individual to individual. Some will shatter and fade, falling prey to one’s own insecurities, while others will learn from failure and use it as fuel for their next success.
Unfortunately for the rest of the Bellator welterweight division, it appears as though the latter of two ways is how Koreshkov has handled his first hiccup as a professional fighter.
“My coach Alexander Shlemenko told me to find more reasons that would motivate me to become the best in this sports,” Koreshkov said. “He told me to do psychological work. I did, and it really helped me a lot.”
Koreshkov’s first and only appearance since his defeat to Askren was a successful one. He was able to earn a unanimous decision win over David Gomez at a Russian MMA event in December.
One of the facets of Koreshkov’s game that he will need to improve on is his wrestling. Against Askren, he was dominated from a wrestling standpoint. In a tournament that features a pair of talented wrestlers in Paul Bradley and Nathan Coy, Koreshkov will need to shore up his wrestling, and that’s what he has done, training with Kenny Johnson, a former wrestler under Dan Gable.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time improving the wrestling aspect of my game, so obviously I became a better fighter after the loss,” he said. “I learned more about techniques. I learned a lot, actually.”
Koreshkov will be able to show how much he has learned on Saturday when he puts his 14-1 record on the line against Nah-Shon Burrell in a tournament bout at Bellator 112.
For Koreshkov, another try in a Bellator tournament will serve as an opportunity to gain closure from the Askren loss and contend for the Bellator championship once again.
“To come back and win this tournament would mean a lot for me. It will bring me back the right to fight for the title, which would be the most important thing for me.”