Liam McGeary was scheduled to fight Bellator MMA mainstay Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal in a co-main event later this month, but an injury forced “King Mo” out and Bubba McDaniel in.
Don’t know much about McDaniel? Neither does McGerary.
“What’s my new opponent’s name?” McGeary asked a nearby assistant. “Bubba? Bubba McDaniel. I know . . . not a great deal.”
Brooklyn’s McGeary will learn just enough about McDaniel over the next two-plus weeks as he tries to get back in the win column at Bellator 185 on Oct. 20 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Despite a new opponent, McGeary said he expects to stick to his game plan regardless of who’s on the other side of the cage.
“Doesn’t really change anything, the focus is always going to be the same,” McGeary said. “They know they want to try to take me down, I’m going to try to stop the takedown. I’m going to do the same thing standing up and fighting, dominating my opponent.”
While McGeary doesn’t care who he is fighting once in the cage, he admitted he was disappointed not to face someone with more name recognition like Lawal, especially after a submission loss to Linton Vassell in his last bout.
“After the recent last fight, it would’ve been a nice fight to take just to boost me up again, taking that top name like ‘Mo,’ but I’ll take each fight as they come,” McGeary said. “I don’t plan on being in there that long, so maybe I’ll get in there again before the end of the year, we’ll see.”
The former Bellator light heavyweight champion has plans to get back on top, and that starts with returning to the win column. McGeary is 1-2 in his last three fights after starting his career 11-0, including the defeat against Vassell by arm-triangle choke in the third round. It was the first stoppage loss of his career, but McGeary didn’t sweat it for long.
“I completely forgot I’d even had a fight two days later. I was lying on a beach in Spain and then I went to Bermuda,” McGeary said. “There was no recovery, I wasn’t injured, he didn’t hurt me, he just laid on me.”
With the Vassell loss behind him, McGeary turns his attention to a man he knows little about.
A veteran of Texas and Oklahoma regional circuits, McDaniel’s last bout was a second-round TKO victory over Juan Torres at Strike League 1 in April. While he’s stayed local for much of his career, McDaniel has three UFC appearances (1-2) and four Bellator fights (3-1). He also appeared on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” losing to current UFC middleweight Uriah Hall by knockout in the quarterfinals.
McGeary said he knew McDaniel had previously fought in the UFC and Bellator, as well as competing on “TUF,” but didn’t know much else.
“I saw his last fight, I looked on YouTube and his last fight came up,” McGeary said. “It looked as though the guy he was fighting shouldn’t have even been in the cage, he could’ve lost a couple of pounds, so I don’t know.”
Whether he knows everything or nothing about McDaniel ahead of fight night, McGeary doesn’t want the opponent to influence what he wants to do.
“Listen man, I’m gonna just do me. When you start worrying about what they do, then you start changing things,” McGeary said. “I know I can fight, and I know I’ve fixed my hole that I needed to fix, so now I’m just going to go out there and do what I do. He needs to worry about what I’m doing, not the other way around.”
And if McGeary does that, he believes it will be a quick night.
“I’m going to end it the first round,” McGeary said. “I don’t want to be going to the second round, third round. I want to go out and have a beer.”