The second show of Bellator’s European Series takes place on Saturday 4th May 2019 from the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, England on a night where more domestic talent will look to catapult themselves onto the world stage. British fans will be delighted that a major American promotion has committed themselves to running regular shows in Europe with a real intent to grow the MMA market in the region. The show will be broadcast live on Channel 5 so every fighter on the main card will be looking to make a statement in front of a large number of eyeballs. One of these competitors is Fabian Edwards (6-0) who is one of the top up and coming fighters on the whole of the Bellator roster, let alone the UK. He will be competing in front of his hometown crowd as he welcomes Falco Neto Lopes (11-9) to Bellator in a middleweight contest.
After signing an exclusive deal with the promotion, Fabian Edwards earned a unanimous decision victory in his last fight against the previous Cage Warriors middleweight champion, Lee Chadwick. The brother of top 15 ranked UFC welterweight, Leon Edwards, landed a huge head kick on Chadwick in the first round that would have taken out any lesser man. Chadwick managed to stay in there for the rest of the bout but ‘The Assassin’ fought a steady and composed fight to control his opponent. Edwards didn’t think it was a performance that showed what he is truly capable of but thinks the whole experience will be beneficial to his career in the long run.
“I thought I did average in the Chadwick fight,” said Edwards. “I was in second gear throughout if not first gear for me. A big thanks goes to all of my coaches who prepared me for that fight and they were happy that I went three rounds so now I’m happy. Furthermore, I’m pleased that I got that experience underneath my belt. I showed that I can do more than one thing so if the finish doesn’t come, I’ve got plenty of other ways to dominate in a fight. The lesson I learnt is that I can push more and that’s why in Birmingham you’re going to see a different Fabian Edwards. You’re going to see somebody who comes out and pushes the pace from the start.”
Not many fighters in the world have toppled a former Cage Warriors world champion in only their sixth professional fight. As a comparison, that bout was Chadwick’s 39th performance inside the cage so the experience gap between the two was huge. However, that definitely was not apparent to onlookers as many would have thought that Edwards was the battle-tested veteran in there. The visible difference in skill level didn’t take Edwards by surprise though and the 26 year old believes he is still only just touching the surface of the talent that he has.
“I didn’t get any extra confidence from that result,” explained Edwards. “I’m a confident motherf****r anyway because my preparation is better than anyone’s. I just feel like I’m smarter than everyone so I haven’t got any extra confidence. I’m still changing my game, still learning and I’m still in second gear. All of these boys have been in the game for ten, fifteen or twenty years and I’m coming in and wiping them out like I did with Chadwick. I made him look like an amateur.”
In Birmingham, Edward’s next test is against Falco Neto Lopes who has finished 9 of his 11 wins before the final horn. He isn’t a familiar name to most MMA fans in the UK and definitely doesn’t have the reputation that Chadwick had in the middleweight division. Although Edwards would have preferred to be fighting a more established name to build on his current winning streak, he sees this as a way of staying busy and adding to his 83% finishing rate.
“I would say Lopes is a step down in competition myself but it is what it is. I’ve asked for Mike Shipman, I’ve asked for the guy who Mike Shipman is fighting (Costello Van Steenis) and I’ve asked for experienced opponents,” stated Edwards. “This is only my seventh fight and I’m fighting a guy where this bout will be his twenty first. A lot of guys in my position are trying to get the easiest fights they can whereas I’m asking for hard fights. This was the only fight available so it is what it is. I thought why not go in there, get some easy money, get a highlight reel and continue on the easy money tour? He is an experienced guy but he is an amateur in his ways. I’ll set him up and I’ll have him out of there in the first round, mark my words!”
A fight between Fabian Edwards and Mike Shipman is a clash that domestic fans and media have been clamouring to see for around a year or so after it looked as though both were on a collision course during their time in BAMMA. Many thought that they would be booked opposite one another after Edward’s win in Newcastle but for one reason or another it didn’t happen. From his perspective, Edwards wants that fight badly but believes Shipman is doing all he can to avoid it.
“That fight hasn’t happened because he doesn’t want the fight, plain and simple and he knows that,” said Edwards. “He would get badly hurt and he doesn’t want it. I’ve asked for it publicly and I’ve put it out there. It’s as simple as that. He says that he’s asked for it so if he has and I’ve asked for it, why has it not happened? He’s just a p***y in my eyes. If that fight happens, he will be done in one round as well.”
Saturday night will be the first time in Edward’s professional career that he has fought in front of his hometown of Birmingham. His brother, Leon, has long talked about wanting to be the one to bring the UFC back to the city but it is Fabian who has managed to get Bellator there first. While fighting at home can have many advantages, it can have some draw backs also such as having pressure to deliver for attending family and friends. Edwards knows that this pressure won’t be an issue for him and is looking forward to putting on a show for his loyal fans.
“It’s going to be a great feeling walking out to my hometown crowd. I don’t know how many people are attending but everyone who cares about me will be there so that’s all that matters,” discussed Edwards. “For me, it’s about producing in front of all of the fans who care, putting on a picture perfect performance for them and entertaining the Bellator crowd worldwide. I’m looking forward to showing people what the assassin is all about. I’ve told everyone I’m the daddy of Bellator and I’m whipping all my sons. Come May 4th that’s what I’ll be doing. Lopes is my next son so I’ll be whipping him and sending him back to Portugal or wherever the f**k he’s come from.”
“With this win, I feel like I’m a few fights away from the title shot. There aren’t really a lot of people in the Bellator middleweight division so once I show Bellator I can string these wins together like I’ve been doing all through my career, they will see that they’ve got the next champ. I think they have seen that I’m the next champion in the making,” said Edwards.
The next time Bellator are back in the UK after the Birmingham show is for a blockbuster London event on June 22nd. That card will be headlined with a middleweight title fight as Gegard Mousasi defends his belt against the undefeated Rafael Lovato Jr who is the clear number one contender in the division. Edwards will watch that fight intently as he sizes up both men as potential future opponents. He was asked how he thought that contest would play out.
“F**k the prediction. That’s my thoughts on that because that world title should be mine,” exclaimed Edwards. “That’s what I’m coming for. I’m going for that world title so I don’t really care who wins. Whoever has the title is who I’m gunning for next. Whoever the unlucky man is who has the title is who my eyes are set on.”
Bellator Birmingham: Primus v Wilde can be seen live on Channel 5 at 10pm on Saturday night.