Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen turned on the power to finish Fabian Edwards in the third round of his title defense in Dublin, then stated that he belongs in the discussion about the best middleweights on the planet.
Eblen knocked out Edwards with vicious ground strikes early in the third round of their main event title fight in Dublin to take his perfect professional record to 14-0 as he further solidified his position as Bellator’s premier 185-pounder.
Speaking to John McCarthy in the cage after his victory, Eblen revealed that he was a little concerned about how bad the cut might be, but he stuck to the plan and got the finish.
“Part of me was like, ‘Yeah I don’t know how bad this cut is. It feels pretty bad,’ so I just stuck to the game plan, what my coach told me to do,” he said.
“Nah, I didn’t really change much. I just go in and fight, man. I don’t really think too much about it.”
Eblen said that he planned to keep the fight at range for the opening moments to assess Edwards’ threat on the feet, and also explained how some defensive shortcomings on his side were to blame for the nasty gash on his right eyebrow.
“Early on, we wanted to kind of move our feet, stay on the outside, land some kicks, land some punches, see what he had for us,” he explained.
“After the first (round) I felt like I could strike with him. The problem was, out of the clinch I wasn’t coming out safely, and he landed some pretty nasty elbows, which is how I got my cut. This is how the fight game is, though. You can’t expect anything to happen going your way all the time.”
Eblen also praised Edwards’ takedown defense, as the Birmingham native proved to be a tricky man to take to the mat.
“Yeah (it was) pretty good, man,” he said.
“He did really well to control my wrist. Did well popping up. But over time it’s going to where it’s gonna be harder and harder every time to get up.
“He was getting a little bit tired and he thought I was going to turn into a wrestler. But I can still strike, and I can strike for five rounds.
“I think I’m one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world. I can strike, I can wrestle, I can grapple. I can do it all.”