Paul Bradley was fighting relatively well against Chris Honeycutt at Bellator 140 last July, but in the blink of an eye, the bout was over.
He wasn’t knocked out or submitted with something he didn’t see, however. What happened that night at Mohegan Sun was one of the most dreadful experiences a professional fighter can endure: the lousy no contest.
After an opening round that saw Bradley defend multiple takedown attempts, the San Diego fighter began landing some solid strikes on his feet in the second. He wasn’t on the verge of a stoppage, but Bradley had found his rhythm and appeared to seize control of the action. However, at the midway point of the stanza, the two combatants came together and their heads clashed. Bradley was instantly lacerated and the fight was scrapped.
“That really was a crappy way to end a fight,” Bradley told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “I thought the fight was starting to go my way in the second. I was starting to land some good strikes and I was starting to wear on him. Unfortunately, when you have two wrestlers coming forward, you’re sometimes going to have those head butts and it sucks that it ended like that, but here we are doing it again.”
Bradley said he knew he was cut but wasn’t aware of how severe it was. Even when he was able to see the gash, the Alliance MMA product fully expected to continue on, bleeding or not.
“When we clashed our heads, I knew I was cut but I just wiped away the blood and was ready to keep going,” he said. “But once I did, that’s when ‘Big’ John came in and stopped it to have me checked. I couldn’t see the cut so I didn’t think it was that bad. Plus, I had seen Joe Lauzon, for example, allowed to continue fighting and his cut was way worse than mine. I’ve seen that quite a bit so that made it even more sucky that the fight was stopped. The doctor was, like, 12 feet away from me when he called the fight and he didn’t ever really get to me to see it. I put in a long camp for that and it was really disappointing for both Chris and me.”
Bradley detailed another aspect of the no contest that isn’t always taken into consideration in MMA: the loss of money.
“I had a mixture of anger and disappointment because how hard I had trained for that fight,” he said. “It was total crap because after all that hard work and fighting as hard as we did, we both wound up [getting] paid less -- no bonuses -- and it’s right back to the drawing board and wait for the thing to heal before we could do it again.”
Luckily for both welterweights, Bellator ordered an immediate rematch to settle the score. Considering their initial encounter was only six months ago, Bradley admitted that he doesn’t expect much to change between the two when they lock horns on Friday at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., at Bellator 148.
And Bradley is eager to get back in the cage and continue where he left off.
“I just can’t wait to get back in there and take it to this kid,” he said. “It will go one of two ways: either he comes in and tries to implement the same game plan he had in the first fight or he’ll stand and strike with me. I’ll be ready either way because my team and I have been watching a lot of film and we think we have the best approach to him no matter how he fights me. I know he was getting worn out so the harder I push him this time, the more tired he’ll get so I’m going to pressure him right away. I’ve invested heavily into my conditioning and I look forward to making him really work hard this time.”