With the date for Bellator Newcastle and the kick off of the promotion’s European series drawing closer, there are many domestic fighters that are looking forward to making the step up and hoping to make a name for themselves on the Bellator roster. One of those names is Ashley ‘The Beast’ Reece (6-1) who will be hoping to leave the Metro Radio Arena on Saturday 9th February as one of the potential homegrown talents to watch. He is competing on the prelims in a welterweight contest against John-Ross Harkins (2-1) and will be looking to get back in the win column after suffering the first loss of his fighting career last May.
Reece last fought for ACB in Nottingham and lost a unanimous decision to Adam Proctor who is widely considered one of the hottest welterweight prospects in the country. ‘The Beast’ was dropped early in the first round and was overwhelmed in a number of grappling exchanges thereafter up until the end of the second round. However, he looked to stage a comeback in the third when he knocked Proctor down and spent the rest of the round in top position appearing to be the fresher man. If the bout had been a five round fight the result may have been different but it was a confidence boost for the 30 year old knowing that he can compete with the best welterweights on the domestic scene.
“My last fight with Adam Proctor was a fun one but I felt like I lost the fight in the second round. Adam won the first two rounds so I knew if I didn’t finish him in the third, I’d lose the fight,” said Reece. “I credit my performance in the final round to my fitness. My strength and conditioning coach, Trevor Oliver, always prepares me so that I am 100% ready for fight night and I will always finish stronger each round.”
With that being the case, it could well be that opponents he faces will need to establish a big lead over him early or it will end up being a tough night for them. By the time Reece enters the cage in Newcastle, it will have been close to 9 months since he last competed so he has had a lot of time to improve his skills in the gym without having the pressure of having a particular opponent to game plan for. This is often the time when fighters make the most improvements.
“I’ve been working on every aspect of my game since my last fight and I hope to be evolving into a complete mixed martial artist,” Reece said. He went on to talk about his upcoming opponent Harkins and noted that he doesn’t have a particular game plan set for the upcoming contest. “Depending on what my opponent brings to the table in this fight will decide what skills I showcase,” he explained.
Bellator’s European signing spree towards the end of last year garnered headlines due to the number of fighters they were tying up to contracts. The feedback from these fighters has been mostly positive with many saying they now have the financial security to put complete focus into their training, which wasn’t the case before. Reece is also excited about the prospect of working for the promotion.
“Bellator seems like a great company for me to display my skills. I am taking my career fight by fight with Bellator and I’m going to see where it takes me,” Reece said. He ended the conversation by setting out his plans for the rest of 2019.
“I got as high as 13th in the UK welterweight rankings last year but I wasn’t busy enough. I only had one fight and lost my momentum. I want to definitely break into the top 10 this year!”