Chris Honeycutt is developing into a force at welterweight. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Bellator 140 is the promotion’s welterweight showcase of the summer, with several significant 170-pound bouts populating the Spike-TV televised portion of the card.
At the top of bill is a title clash between reigning champion Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov, while flamboyant strikers Paul Daley and Michael Page figure to receive plenty of fanfare in matchups seemingly tailor-made to showcase their skills.
Receiving less attention, but no less important, is the showdown between former NCAA All-American wrestlers Paul Bradley and Chris Honeycutt. With experience in the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator, Bradley is the grizzled veteran. Honeycutt, meanwhile, is the highly-touted prospect, a Josh Koscheck protégé who followed in “The Ultimate Fighter 1” alum’s footsteps at Edinboro University.
If Honeycutt can pass his test against Bradley in impressive fashion, he might be just the type of kryptonite his flashier colleagues on Friday night’s card would prefer to avoid. Honeycutt knows that aesthetics matter; a grinding decision against Bradley is not the fastest road to a championship.
“I think it all depends on how the fight goes. If I squeak by on a close decision, the chances are a little slimmer than if I go in there and I get a knockout or a late TKO,” Honeycutt told Sherdog.com. “If I put on a good show and I show dominance like I did my last couple of fights, I think I could very well get a title shot. I don’t really think about that. I just want to get in there and fight and not take too much damage so I can get back in there and do it again.”
While a standup artist such as Daley or Page might be next in line regardless of what he does, especially considering Bellator President Scott Coker’s “fun fight” philosophy, Honeycutt draws confidence from the fact that both components of Friday’s headliner have been vanquished by dominant wrestling in the past.
Lima’s lone career setback came against departed former welterweight king Ben Askren at Bellator 64, while Koreshkov was overwhelmed by the “Funky” one at Bellator 97. If an opportunity to vie for 170-pound gold comes sooner than expected, Honeycutt knows exactly who to call.
“I like Ben. I’ve talked to Ben a couple of times. I like his philosophy on it,” Honeycutt said. “I like to punch more than Ben does. I feel like we have a similar style in how we ride. I like to try to make the effort to throw more elbows and beat my opponent up while I’m on top.
“After this fight if there is any talk of a title shot, I’ll put my neck out there and see if I can actually get some work with Ben. If anybody knows how to beat them, Ben will. I would look to bring some of his pointers in for sure.”
At the very least, Askren’s success against a pair of standup-oriented fighters bodes well for Honeycutt.
“It makes me very confident knowing that Ben went in there and laid it on there on them,” he admitted. “It’s hard to go with Ben for 15 minutes.”
While Honeycutt is well-known for his ability on the mat, he expects that the matchup with Bradley could allow him to showcase some of his other developing skills.
“His wrestling’s good enough to where takedowns aren’t gonna be as easy,” Honeycutt said. “I can see us neutralizing each other to keep it on the feet a little more. We could neutralize each other to the point where we’ll be standing up for at least a portion of it.
“I look forward to throwing some hands. Wrestling is what I did in college; now I’d like to start really fighting.”
Honeycutt will get his chance Friday night, with what could be the perfect opportunity to send a message to the upper echelon of Bellator’s welterweight division.