Bellator 214: “Fedor vs. Bader” takes place this weekend (Sat., Jan. 26, 2019) at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The Heavyweight Grand Prix concludes in epic fashion in the main event of the evening as Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) meets Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (26-5), meaning the latter could walk away as a two-weight class champion with a victory.
Meanwhile, Henry Corrales (16-3) might be “OK” fulfilling a similar role. Although he’s often undersized at Featherweight standing 5’8” with a 69” reach, he’s proved time and again he’s the smaller dog with the bigger bite, chewing his way through four straight highly-touted opponents from Georgi Karakhanyan to Andy Main.
This Saturday night, he’ll be the more experienced man facing Aaron Pico (4-1), but it could arguably be his toughest fight yet. Pico’s Olympic-level wrestling and Golden Gloves boxing have quickly accelerated him up the ranks in Bellator — figuratively and literally — knocking off four straight opponents who were all veterans compared to him.
Corrales recently spoke with MMAmania.com about what’s sure to be a war between two of Bellator MMA’s top Featherweight contenders, who just both happen to be California natives.
“Oh yeah, I’m pumped dude. It’s my third year fighting there, and I’m from that area (of California) so I couldn’t be happier man.”
In Corrales’ four-fight win streak all four bouts have gone to the third round (and two were finished there) so I asked him if we were in for more of the same.
“I’m not sure dude, but I’m going to go in well conditioned, well prepared, and ready to get after it.”
When it comes to being well conditioned, MMA Lab in Arizona is a tough, demanding environment that’s not going to cut any fighter any slack if he or she can’t keep up.
“It’s been going really well. I’m at the MMA Lab here in Phoenix so, that place is flooded with a bunch of studs. We’re working, man. We’re doing it.”
Between bites of his meal (clearly during a break from training) I asked Corrales if his Lab partners and teammates had spotted any weaknesses in Pico’s game to exploit.
“Yeah! It’s everything that you’ve seen, everything that we’ve all seen, you know? He’s a great wrestler, great hands, and uhh … when we accepted the match-up we knew we had our hands full so its definitely brought out the best (from me) in this camp.”
If Pico is at his best, and Corrales is at his best, will it be a long fight this weekend or could it come down to one good punch? I asked Corrales for his thoughts.
“I’ve seen it all dude, so, yeah. No, I’ve seen it all so that (one punch) could be a possibility for sure.”
Corrales is a bit of a paradox. When he first debuted in Bellator he seemed to have a lot to say, but as time goes on he seems less prone to pontificate. Nevertheless, I persisted and asked him about his return to The Forum in Inglewood.
“Yeah, it’s so cool you know? It’s always good to fight in front of some uhh, familiar faces. You know, third year in a row there, and it’s definitely not getting old. I’m having a great time.”
For Corrales it’s at least a good coincidence to once again be on the same card as Fedor.
“Yeah, that’s really cool. I just fought on the same card with him in October so, yeah, we get to fight on the same card again so, that’ll be nice.”
Given how competitive the landscape is at 145 pounds in Bellator, I asked Corrales if there should be a Featherweight Grand Prix similar to the ones at Welterweight and Heavyweight.
“Umm … oh I haven’t given that much thought. Um, I’m not sure dude. I think whether they label it grand prix or not, it kind of already is, you know?”
Okay then, let’s take a different tack. Who at MMA Lab has given you the best advice or training techniques going into this Pico fight?
“Man, there’s so many, you know? There’s definitely a lot of outspoken dudes, so they’re always throwing out good information around here, you know. My roommate, Dan ‘The Hitman’ Moret, he fights in UFC, he’s been throwing a bunch of knowledge at me. Robert Emerson, he’s been chirping, too. My boy Scotty ‘Hot Sauce’ (Holtzman) and just our coaches man, (John) Crouch, Benson Henderson, you know I could go on and on honestly.”
I honestly wish he would. Being that he’s a man of few words, though, this week (perhaps because he’s taking this fight so seriously) I asked for his closing thoughts on Pico.
“Yeah, he brings the noise and I’m looking forward to getting in there with him, for sure.”
For sure, dude.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Fedor vs. Bader” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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