The winner of showdown between Chris Honeycutt and Rafael Lovato in the Bellator 189 co-main event could be on track to bigger things in the promotion’s middleweight division.
Honeycutt, the owner of a four-fight winning streak and an 11-1 overall record, is well aware of this fact. A victory over the unbeaten Lovato could put him in line for a 185-pound title shot. However, he also realizes there are a few other middleweights who could make the same claim.
“I feel it puts me on the short list of contenders,” Honeycutt told Sherdog.com. “I’m not gonna say the weight class is stacked through and through. There’s five to six guys in the division that are all looking good. I’m not gonna cry if I don’t get the title shot next. I think I should get it in the next year or so.”
Reigning champion Rafael Carvalho will put the middleweight strap on the line against Alessio Sakara in the Bellator 190 headliner on Dec. 9 in Italy. While Sakara doesn’t appear to be the most deserving No. 1 contender in the division, Honeycutt is more concerned with staying active than the merits of the current title challenger.
“I can only worry about what I do and what’s put in front of me. I’m more upset about this only being my second fight than about that,” he said. “The belt’s gonna come eventually. There’s people to fight. I don’t have to fight just the champion.
“In 2016 I had four fights, and this will only be my second. After having a year of four fights and being pretty active I’ve kind of sat around this year bored,” he continued. “I’m still training so my life doesn’t really change but it’s always nice to know you’re training for something or for somebody.”
In Lovato, Honeycutt will be facing a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who has yet to go the distance in six professional appearances. Most recently, Lovato submitted Mike Rhodes with a rear-naked choke 1:59 into the opening stanza at Bellator 181. Honeycutt believes his base will allow him to control the pace and location of the fight.
“The wrestler can dictate where the fight goes…I truly believe he’s not going to really try for the takedown all that much,” Honeycutt said. “Because I don’t want to put him in his comfort position, I probably won’t go for a takedown either. But it’s always nice to know that if it’s a close round I can go for the takedown and put that last good impression in the judges’ eyes.”
Since transitioning to MMA, Honeycutt has developed an affinity for the standup game and he feels confident in his skills on the feet. He is also aware that Lovato may be willing to throw risky strikes because he doesn’t mind going to the ground if his attacks fail.
He throws a lot of high kicks. He has no fear of being taken down because ultimately I feel that’s what he wants,” Honeycutt said. “He likes to land the kick, but if not, he wants someone to scoop it and go for the takedown. In a couple of his earlier fights, that’s exactly what people did. I don’t know how much his striking has evolved. Really there are not too many fights where I can get too much footage off of him because he finishes them….He likes to use his length and the head kicks to encourage the takedown. It’s a big light bulb in my mind, so that I know that instead of scooping or going for the takedown to just check and counter with more strikes.”