Bellator welterweight king Andrey Koreshkov’s stock is at an all-time high. Coming off his dismantling of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Bellator President Scott Coker says his champion is one of the world’s top-three welterweights.
‘Spartan’ will step back into the Bellator cage to defend his title against the man he took it from in challenger Douglas Lima Thursday night in the main event of Bellator 164: Koreshkov Lima 2 live from Tel Aviv, Israel.
Fighters Only spoke to the champion just hours before he was due to step into the cage.
FO: Recently Douglas Lima revealed that he went into your first fight with a serious knee injury. One so serious that one some level, he felt forced to give up the title just by competing that night. What are your thoughts when you hear that comment?
Andrey Koreshkov: I don’t think that he was seriously injured in that first fight. He moved well. He defended well. He was strong and in good shape. In the MMA game fighters get injured all the time. A very high percentage of fighters that come to fight have some kind of injury. Most fighters don’t talk about it. Only some of them start talking about the injury after they lose. I don’t think he was seriously injured. I think he is using it as an excuse.
Lima said that he is 100% healthy going into the second fight. What are your thoughts on that statement?
For me, it doesn’t matter either way because I am going to beat him. I am just better than him.
How do you see the rematch playing out once the cage door shuts?
MMA is a very unpredictable as anything can happen. Technically it’s difficult to predict how a fight will play out. I believe that we will both come into the fight much more aggressive. He will be trying to knock me out and I, for sure, am going to be far more aggressive than the first fight and I will stop him. This will be an exciting fight.
What are your takeaways from your fight with Benson Henderson?
The biggest difference is name recognition. I know that I became much more famous with that win than I used to be. I gained name recognition from people who didn’t know about me. I also gained respect from people who knew me but didn’t know I was on that level. After the fight, I gained that name recognition and respect.
The Bellator welterweight division is changing with the addition of Rory MacDonald and the emergence of Michael ‘Venom’ Page. What are your thoughts on the landscape of the division?
I think the Bellator welterweight division is a stacked one. Rory MacDonald is a very strong fighter who has competed against top opponents at the top level of the sport. I think that would be a great matchup for me. I still think I am better than him in every area of the fight game.
Michael Page is good but he is good against weak competition. The next fight he has will tell us how good he is. It also depends on how he wins, if he wins. I think it’s premature to speak about him in a title fight. We will see in his next fight.