When Linton Vassell returns to the Bellator cage, in the co-main event of Bellator 218, it will be the beginning of a new challenge that the man known as “The Swarm” is incredibly excited for. For the first time in his 28-fight career, the 34-year-old will compete as a heavyweight. Welcoming the Englishman to the land of the giants will be Russia’s Valentin Moldavsky.
It’s been 10 months since Vassell’s last fight and to say he excited to be back is an understatement.
“Soon as I got the announcement, I was screaming and jumping around. I was like, ‘I’m finally back in there’. Nothings worse than sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone go up the rankings and punching people. I’ve seen friends fight. It’s great to be the one in there. Next week I be doing my business.”
Moving up to a weight class means getting away from something that everyone in the fight game hates.
“I ain’t got to cut no weight man. I don’t have to cut no weight whatsoever. Eat, drink, do what I like in a sense.”
“It’s crazy I thought I was strong at Light Heavyweight… I just can’t wait to show the people. I thought I was strong at light heavyweight and that was cutting weight obviously, depleting myself a little bit in a ten-week camp. I don’t have words for how excited I am and the difference you’ll see March 22.”
Having competed his whole career at Light Heavyweight, I’m sure many people will wonder if size will be a disadvantage?
“I’m walking around at about 246. I actually feel good. I feel good, I feel like a Heavyweight. It’s crazy how putting a few pounds on can actually make you feel different about yourself. Life is good.”
Vassell sees the fully deck stacked in his favor on March 22nd.
“I think it’s a perfect match up for me. He’s like on a tear right now. He’s won his last two-fights in Bellator. I say he’s a beast to be honest, hits hard, has good Sambo, but he’s not ready for me, that’s the difference. It’s a proper opponent for me, but he’s not ready for me. I think it a perfect match-up for me to get introduced to the Bellator Heavyweight category.”
“I know he’s a Sambo wrestler but it’s MMA. I feel like my ground game, bottom and top; I’m not on the bottom at all, my top ground game is heavy. If I’m on top, I’m pretty much finishing the fight. My striking is even better now. I’ve added extra pounds on me, now when I kick and punch… people know about it. I feel like all over. It’s not being cocky, that’s just being confident. I really do feel I’ve got the advantage here.”
“Feel like I’m going to impose my will, I really do. I don’t think he’s going to realize how big and how strong I really am. At Light Heavyweight people have seen me. They haven’t seen me (recently). I’m a new guy. It’s crazy, again I thought I was strong at light heavyweight. I had a good few wins over some top guys, but I feel different. So much more confident, stronger, faster. I’m really looking forward to it (the fight). And I feel I’m going to have the advantage in all aspects: reach, my height, power, strength. I’ve got more experience than him as well. I feel all that is going to play a factor.”
Watch the full interview at the top.