Linton Vassell meets fellow Brit and former Bellator light-heavyweight champion Liam McGeary this Friday night (May 19) in London, England and promises to produce moves in the fight few will have ever seen from him before. He’s calling it Linton 3.0, a nod to the fact he’s been around the block and therefore already showcased 2.0, but, whatever the version, it’s an upgrade nevertheless.
Certainly, all the signs are there. Vassell, after all, is riding high on a two-fight win-streak – having defeated Francis Carmont and Emanuel Newton – and, at 33, seems as close to his physical prime as he’s ever likely to get. Best of all, a win over McGeary and he knows a Bellator 205-pound title shot will not be too far away.
“I feel like I’m going to be a lot stronger than him,” he says of McGeary. “I feel like I’m going to be a lot more explosive as well. I feel like my ground game is second to none. I feel I have the best ground work at light-heavyweight. I scramble well and I’m never in bad positions in any fight. I’m usually on top, making people pay and finishing fights. My hands are real good right now, too.
“I’m so confident in the way my training has been going. You’re going to see some new moves coming out Friday. I think I’m going to even surprise myself. I’m too old for Linton 2.0, but we could see Linton 3.0.”
Vassell, like McGeary, has spent much of his nine-year professional MMA career Stateside, working with some of the best coaches and training partners in the world. It is, he says, what has made him the fighter he is today.
The meeting of McGeary and Vassell in London, however, in a country familiar to both, is just the way it should be. Not so much the climax of a collision course, Vassell, 17-5, nonetheless saw this moment coming a long time ago.
“It actually feels normal,” says Linton. “There’s no bad blood between me and Liam. It’s literally business. We’re both in the same weight category and we’re both at our peak. He’s a former champion, I’m on a two-fight win-streak; I’ve just beaten two top guys. We have to fight.
“When we both joined Bellator, everybody was like, ‘When are you going to fight Liam?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it will happen, don’t worry.’ He said exactly the same. It was a natural fight, one that has to happen. Even though he’s my friend, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to do a job.
“I’ve never had a bad blood fight. I’ve never had anyone chat shit to me before a fight. Paul Daley and Rory MacDonald (Friday’s headliners) don’t really like each other and there’s some feeling there, but, for me, I haven’t had that. If I do, we’ll see what happens. You might see me come out with a body slam or something.”
Friends before, friends again after, Vassell and McGeary will, for a maximum of three rounds and fifteen minutes, become the very best of enemies Friday night at Wembley Arena.