Liam McGeary admits he didn’t know how much the Bellator light-heavyweight crown meant to him until he lost it last November. It had been a title he’d held for the best part of a year-and-a-half, successfully defending it once against Tito Ortiz, before Phil Davis came along and not only robbed him of it but also changed his way of thinking.

“I only realised what I had when I lost it,” McGeary, 12-1, said yesterday in London. “I was like, you know what, I wouldn’t mind having that back. I will knock out and submit every single person who gets in my way now. Fuck going to a decision. I just want to fight them all. The belt would be nice, but, even without it, I still want to fight them all.”

It wasn’t only the fact he lost the belt which seems to have irked McGeary. It was also the way he lost the belt. See, McGeary, though a champion for a year-and-a-half, was trying to beat Phil Davis all the while shaking off 14 months’ worth of ring rust. It rendered him sluggish. It meant he performed out of character. Ultimately, it was partly to blame.

“I had fourteen months of doing nothing,” he says. “It’s like riding a push bike and then you come to a red traffic light and you’ve got to go up hill and you’re like, fuck this. Once you start getting your momentum, you’re okay, but the start is never easy. Phil Davis was the start for me. Then you saw me against Brett McDermott (in February of this year) and that’s how I usually fight. I don’t chase after people. I was running on to everything against Davis. I made every mistake you can make. I make those mistakes in the changing room normally. But I made those same mistakes in the fight with Phil.”

McGeary says he won’t make the same mistake again. He’s keen to get active now, starting with a fight this Friday (May 19) against fellow Brit Linton Vassell at London’s Wembley Arena.

Vassell, though, believes he is getting McGeary at just the right time and that the key to beating the former champion can be found in the very thing he has come to regret.

“I’d be a fool not to watch that fight,” Vassell, 17-5, says of Davis vs. McGeary. “I don’t understand people who don’t watch film. At the end of the day, you’re going in there to fight. What’s fifteen or twenty minutes out of your day? I’ll probably watch it right up until the fight. You’ve got to refresh, man.”

On that point, they can both agree.