Bellator Champ Johnny Eblen: ‘I’m the Best Middleweight in the World’

Johnny Eblen wasn’t completely flawless in his first Bellator middleweight title defense — but he was pretty close.

“The Human Cheat Code” relied on takedowns, ground-and-pound and some timely striking to capture a unanimous decision triumph against Anatoly Tokov in the Bellator 290 co-main event at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night. Eblen received scorecards of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 from the cageside judges to end his opponent’s seven-fight winning streak within the promotion. After the opening stanza, Eblen gradually took control, punctuating his victory with a spectacular belly-to-back suplex in Round 5.

“First round was tough,” Eblen said at the post-fight press conference. “After that, I just did what I wanted to do with him, started pulling away. He’s the first guy to beat me in a round because two judges gave him the first round.”

Despite a relatively clear-cut victory, Eblen still found some flaws in his performance, though one was only of the tongue-in-cheek variety.

“Yeah, I was pretty happy with the performance,” he said. “I’m pretty critical of myself. I’m going to watch it back and pick it apart. I got hit. I don’t want to get hit.

“The suplex could have been better. I’m kidding. It was a pretty good suplex.”

Eblen took the prospect route during his first couple years in Bellator but has risen to prominence in short order thanks to victories over Tokov, Gegard Mousasi and John Salter in recent months.

“I think I’m the best in the world now,” he said. “How I’m training, how much better I’m getting exponentially, I think I’m the best in the world.”

Though he mentioned facing the winner of the Mousasi-Fabian Edwards clash set for Paris on May 12, Eblen is open to any number of possibilities going forward.

“I’ll do whatever. I don’t give a s—t,” he said. “I am the best middleweight in the world. I’m going to clean out this division, then I’ll do superfights.”

According to Eblen, the best is still yet to come.

“There’s so much I need to get better at,” he said. “I’m just scratching the surface. It’s gonna be scary.”
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