If all goes as planned for Chris Honeycutt in 2016, the Bellator MMA welterweight will be fighting for a shiny gold belt by the end of the year.
First, there is the matter of unfinished business with Paul Bradley. The two men first squared off at Bellator 140 on July 17, but the bout ended in a no-contest after an accidental clash of heads in the second frame left Bradley unable to continue due to a massive cut on his head. In what little time they had in the cage, Honeycutt, a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Edinboro University, showcased an improved standup game to go with his already strong grappling base.
“That first round I started utilizing the boxing tools that I’ve had for some time now,” Honeycutt told Sherdog.com. “There was a lack of confidence in my hands, not fighting but being able to utilize it and watching it work…I took a lot from that first fight, even though there was no outcome, I feel like I won the first round for sure. As a fighter I definitely won in confidence and ability.”
The 27-year-old Honeycutt will get a second crack at Bradley in the Bellator 148 co-headliner on Jan. 29 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. Bradley, a UFC and Strikeforce veteran, is the most accomplished opponent of Honeycutt’s fledgling pro career. Win impressively, and the Dethrone Base Camp representative could become a serious player in Bellator’s 170-pound division.
“If I go out there and just beat him up and he lasts the whole fight I could see myself having another fight, maybe two before the title shot,” Honeycutt said. “If I just light him up on my feet and I get some takedowns and it’s a very impressive win, maybe it’s a contender shot for my next fight. The goal is to get the title shot and get the belt by the end of the year. Obviously it’s not 100 percent in my control. I need to be in the ring fighting for the belt in order to get the belt. I take that for what it is.”
Bellator 148 was originally intended to be something of a showcase for Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley, with the two rivals facing underdog opponents in the main and co-main events. If both had won, the promotion would likely have booked a rematch of their infamous UFC 113 clash later this year. Unfortunately, Koscheck had to withdraw from the event due to injury, leaving Daley to headline the card in “The Ultimate Fighter 1” veteran’s backyard.
As a fellow Edinboro standout, Koscheck helped inspire Honeycutt to pursue MMA. Now, they’re training partners at Koscheck’s California gym. Daley, who is already questioning questioning Koscheck’s investment in the fight, doesn’t figure to have much positive to say about his former foe as Bellator 148 draws near.
Honeycutt won’t pay much attention to the feud — at least for now.
“I guess Daley will do what he does. I try not to focus too much on it,” Honeycutt said. “That’s their beef. If Daley is standing inside of the ring with me, or we get in a fight camp, it will be my beef too. I won’t be afraid to throw hands with him, as well. All that’s their conflict at the moment.”
The way Honeycutt sees it, the best way for him to represent Koscheck is by being successful on fight night.
“I will always defend my mentor, training partner Josh by continuing to get my hand raised, regardless if that’s Daley, Bradley or anyone else,” he said.
However, if Koscheck’s injury woes continue and Honeycutt keeps rolling, he will have no issue stepping in to take on the hard-hitting Brit should the opportunity arise. And he’ll find a way to pay tribute to his mentor in the process.
“If they want me to fight Daley, I will dye my hair blond and whip his ass,” Honeycutt said. “I don’t have enough hair on my head for curls, but I’ll definitely dye it blond and kick the s—t out of him.”