Johnny Eblen: Title Defense vs. Anatoly Tokov ‘Another Step in the Right Direction’
It’ll be hard for Johnny Eblen to top the fight that earned him the Bellator MMA middleweight championship.
The American Top Team product claimed 185-pound gold with a five-round verdict over Gegard Mousasi in the Bellator 282 main event last June. After vanquishing one of the sport’s all-time great middleweights, Eblen will face a lesser known commodity in his first title defense when he locks horns with Anatoly Tokov in the Bellator 290 co-main event. While Tokov isn’t a household name, his seven-fight winning streak in Bellator and gaudy 31-2 overall mark made him an attractive opponent to Eblen.
“It’s just another challenge, another step in the right direction,” Eblen said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s the reason I called him out in the first place. I knew about his record. I knew he was 7-0 in Bellator. And I know he’s really good. So I want to take him out and put on a show in front of all these fans and on CBS.”
While the 31-year-old Eblen only recently emerged as one of the sport’s top talents at 185 pounds, Saturday will represent a chance for him to build his fanbase. Not only does Bellator 290 mark the promotion’s debut on CBS, but it is headlined by heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko’s farewell fight, as he squares off against Ryan Bader in the evening’s main event. Eblen looks forward to being able to showcase his skills on a prominent stage.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “The fact that I’m a part of this card on CBS fighting on the same card as a legend in Fedor and Bader … so this is a big card. A lot of eyes are going to be watching. I’m excited to put on a performance and have fun.”
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