Some fights in MMA are just meant to be. The meeting of Liam McGeary and Linton Vassell tonight (May 19) in London is one of them.
McGeary, a former Bellator light-heavyweight champion, and Vassell, a light-heavyweight contender on a two-fight win-streak, have been in and around the top of their division for many years now. Not only that, they are also both Brits based abroad, Brits who decided to up sticks to America in order to pursue their MMA dream and grow and develop as fighters.
It worked. They’re finally here, both at the top of their game, and a Bellator 179 date brings them back to where it all began. It brings them both back home.
It’s a natural fight, one that could have happened many, many years ago, McGeary explains.
“Five or six years ago, when I was 1-0, my friend put on a show in Jersey and I was like, ‘Listen, I need a fight, you’ve got to get me a fight, because I’m going fucking crazy here,’” he says. “He put out an email to everybody in the top ten in England in my weight class and Linton Vassell was on that list. Everybody, though, came back with the same reply. ‘He’s too inexperienced, we’ve got other engagements.’ They weren’t interested in fighting me. I was the ICO champion, whatever that meant – probably not much – and was 1-0 and I was like, ‘Let me fucking fight. If I’m too inexperienced, fight me. Show me up.’
“But they were too fucking worried about losing to this inexperienced guy. Everybody is so worried about losing fights. I was just a dangerous motherfucker and they didn’t want to come anywhere near me.
“I’ve known about Linton for a long time. He may well have known about me but didn’t want to acknowledge me. But now we’re here and we’re about to fight.”
Rather than preparing to meet his nemesis, however, the man originally from Nolfolk insists he and Vassell are friends and have only agreed to fight because, in MMA, that’s the done thing. To prove your superiority, you must fight.
“I met Linton in San Diego – what a dude,” McGeary says. “An absolute fucking gentleman. It wasn’t a case of me wanting to fight him because I think he’s an arsehole or anything like that. I just thought, come on, let’s have a fight.
“It’s okay to fight a friend. We’re all going to heal up. Bruises and bones heal up. It’s when you hurt someone’s feelings, when you get personal, that it crosses a line. We’re not slitting each other’s throats in there. This is sport.”