Bellator 218: “Sanchez vs. Karakhanyan 2” takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., this weekend (Fri., Mar. 22, 2019), featuring a main event between former No. 1 Featherweight contender “El Matador” Emmanuel Sanchez (17-4) going toe-to-toe with Georgi Karakhanyan (28-8-1, 1 NC) for a second time.
You can also find “Seabass” Michael Shipman (13-1) facing Hracho Darpinyan (17-8-2) at Middleweight earlier in the night. Darpinyan is still in search of his first Bellator win after taking Gerald Harris to a draw his last time out. Coincidentally, Harris will also be seeking his first Bellator win in another bout on the main card. Shipman needs no such help as he’s mowed through all four of his Bellator opponents to date, not to mention the last 13 men in a row he has faced. In fact, Shipman’s only loss as a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter so far came in 2013 against Aaron Brett.
Shipman recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his fight with Darpinyan and sharing a stat with Cris Cyborg — a double-digit win streak following a loss in their professional MMA debuts.
“I mean considering what she’s done, and the career she’s had in MMA, I’m happy about that comparison. I didn’t know that before, but yeah that’s good company to be in.”
The comparison doesn’t end there, though. For both fighters it’s about how they reinvented themselves after disappointing starts in their MMA careers.
“As much credit as I take for that I’ve got to give that to my team as well — London Shootfighters — for getting me back out there, giving me the tools to go back out there and do the job. (It was) also to take the lessons from that loss about how I approached that fight and learning from it, instead of just trying to act like it didn’t happen or forget about it. I embraced that loss and I learned a lot from it.”
London Shootfighters clearly deserves that as home to both Shipman and Michael “Venom” Page, among others. After proving himself in four Bellator fights, Shipman is ready to once again step out under the bright lights.
“I feel great. I think it’s the right time for this now. I’ve got a tough opponent, and I’m featured on the main card, so I think now is the time to show what I’m made of against tough opposition and in a bigger spotlight.”
Although the aforementioned Harris hasn’t won since coming out of retirement for Bellator in 2018, Darpinyan fighting him to a draw did at least show us the newcomer’s toughness and grit.
“Yeah, that’s the thing — he’s not just a skilled fighter. I think the Hracho Darpinyan we saw in his last fight is the best we’ve seen. I think he’s the best he’s ever been, so I’m expecting him to be even better for my fight. He’s not just skilled – he’s there to fight as well. You can see he throw bombs, he’s a dangerous guy, so I think it makes for an entertaining fight. It should be action packed.”
That’s exactly what fights fans are hoping for. What is Mike Shipman hoping for though? What does he see in his immediate future with a nice win over Darpinyan?
“There’s been a lot of talk from an individual called Fabian Edwards who’s been saying a lot of derogatory things about me. (He’s been) saying I’ve been avoiding a fight with him, which is … bizarre. Like he’s 6-0 now, he’s becoming a legitimate prospect, but I haven’t been avoiding anything — he’s only just turned up on the scene! But, yeah he’s been chirping at me for quite a while, so I would like to get that done sooner rather than later, but I understand if Bellator wants to build into something, build it into a bit more of a rivalry. There’s a London card coming up in the summer. I don’t know if he’ll be available for that, but if he is then that would definitely be something I would look at.”
It definitely feels like a fight to let simmer in the pot a bit longer as Edwards just debuted in Newcastle last month. That’s okay, though, as Shipman has a few other ideas, too.
“I’d love to be a world champion, but my kind of general philosophy is not to look too far ahead down the road — kind of deal with the problem in front of you. You’ve got to stay flexible and take the opportunities that are in front of you and so far that’s been working great. To be able to just fight, to be able to support myself fighting would be an amazing thing, to be able to do what you love and to get paid for it — and also to fight the big names, like fighters who I respect and I appreciate their style, like the Mousasis and the people I’ve come up watching.”
Shipman is understandably cautious about taking on Mousasi too early in his career after seeing how easily he dispatched Rory MacDonald and Rafael Carvalho.
“In my opinion, I’d say he’s the best Middleweight in the world. Obviously, on any given day anyone can beat anyone, but in terms of how well rounded he is, he’s just absolutely competent everywhere (and) always makes the right decisions. So in maybe after another year and a half or so of development, and I get myself to my peak, I would absolutely love to test myself against him. I think I’ve got a couple of fights to have first. Hracho Darpinyan is a great step up to start with, maybe another fight after that, and then I’d actually love to see where I am, how I stack up against the Mousasis of the world.”
With a successful fight at Bellator 218 in Thackerville that’s something we can all look forward to.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Sanchez vs. Karakhanyan 2” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.