Bellator 74 Headliner Lyman Good Thankful for Notable Opponent in Tourney Opener
You might be tempted to question the wisdom of taking two of the biggest names from Bellator’s Season 7 welterweight tournament and matching them in the opening round.
Why guarantee you eliminate one of the tourney’s marketable fighters after just one round?
Lyman Good, the first-ever Bellator welterweight champ, doesn’t really care. He’s just happy to face a tough opponent like Jim Wallhead.
“That’s what I’m most excited about,” he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com). “You have to prove yourself right from the beginning. It’s a very exciting fight knowing I’m going against a very tough and known adversary. I know it’s going to be a battle over who has the most heart and at the end who’s going to reign victorious and impose their will.”
Good (12-2 MMA, 5-2 BFC) and Wallhead (23-6 MMA, 1-1 BFC) kick off the eight-man tournament at Friday’s Bellator 74 event at Caesar’s Atlantic City in New Jersey. Their bout, as well as three other tourney opening-round matchups, air on MTV2 following prelims on Spike.com.
The tournament also includes Marius Zaromskis (18-6 MMA, 2-0 BFC), Michail Tsarev (23-2 MMA, 0-0 BFC) and Andrey Koreshkov (10-0 MMA, 2-0 BFC), among others. But among Bellator fans, Good and Wallhead probably are two of the better-known entrants.
“If it’s the headliner of the event, why not have two big names and have them fight each other?” he asked.
Good, who won Bellator’s first welterweight tournament to become an inaugural titleholder in 2009, has fought just twice in the past 17 months. After losing his title to Ben Askren, he entered a Season 4 tournament but suffered a close split-decision defeat to Rick Hawn in the semifinals in April 2011. But after an extended injury layoff, he returned a year later for a stunning 13-second knockout of LeVon Maynard to gain entry into this tourney.
“I’m absolutely ready,” said Good, who said he used the layoff to sharpen his focus and heal up injuries. “I can’t tell you how excited I am and how prepared I am for this fight and this tournament.”
And he said fans can expect to see a better version of himself.
“It’s been great,” he said of his recent camp. “I’ve been utilizing the time very wisely. I can’t tell you how healthy this camp has been. No injuries, nothing. I feel brand new. Everything is stronger than ever.”
Good’s opponent, “Judo” Jim, is on a 10-1 run with recent victories over big-show vets Frank Trigg, Joey Villasenor, Ryan Thomas and Che Mills. He has a high finishing rate and is one of the division’s bigger 170-pounders.
Getting by an opponent like that would be an accomplishment for Good, but for a successful tourney run, he’d need two more wins after it. And in a tournament field in which the fighters’ combined record is 120-23-1, and with three tough fights in about a 10-week span, it’d be tough not to look ahead.
Good, though, said he won’t make that mistake.
“You can’t think too much in a fight about what’s ahead of you because then you’re looking past your opponent,” he said. “If you’re thinking too much about making the next round, you may not make the next round because you’re trying to be a little reserved in your fight. You have to put it all on the line and know that you’re just going to go through one person at a time.”
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