An Exclusive Interview With Fabian Edwards
By Jon Prentice
Bellator MMA announced this past weekend during Bellator 208: Emelianenko vs Sonnen, that they have signed top UK middleweight Fabian “The Assassin” Edwards on an exclusive 5-fight contract. Edwards joins one of the biggest promotions in the world having left UK promotion BAMMA on the verge of a middleweight title shot and undefeated at 5-0, with all of those wins coming by the way of stoppage.
Following the news, I caught up with Edwards to get his thoughts on signing with Bellator, how he sees his competition in the promotion, and what the future holds for the middleweight coming out of Birmingham, England.
“It feels good to finally be signed by a massive promotion”, Edwards stated on his signing with Bellator. “I am just looking forward to going out there and showing everyone that I am the best”.
When news broke that BAMMA were allowing Edwards to look elsewhere, there was plenty of speculation over who he would sign with going forward. Many speculated he could join his Brother Leon in the UFC, however, despite there being a number of offers on the table, Edwards was happy to sign with Bellator, a promotion he had previously fought under in his professional debut at Bellator 179:
“I sat down with my manager and looked at all the offers. We just felt like at this moment in time Bellator was the right option to go with”.
Over recent months Bellator have snapped up a number of former BAMMA fighters and employees, including their former matchmaker Jude Samuel. Edwards stated that working with Samuel again played a key part in his decision to sign with the promotion:
“Yeah I think Jude definitely had a massive part to play in it. Obviously I have got a good working relationship with Jude and I think that, and the deal I was offered, played a part in the decision. I am happy with the deal I got. I think me and one other person got the biggest deals that Bellator offered out of the UK and Irish guys you know, but Jude did also have a massive part to play in that” Edwards stated.
BAMMA has been releasing fighters frequently over a number of months, however the news of Edwards being able to sign elsewhere came as a bit of a surprise to him as he believed he was still in line for a middleweight title fight in Dublin in December:
“It was kind of last-minute (that I found out I was free to sign elsewhere). I thought I was fighting for the world title in December, I was still focused on December 10th in Dublin but they came back to us after we questioned them as to whether the show was still going ahead, saying that they would release me for a Bellator or UFC contract”.
On the news regarding BAMMA releasing the majority of their roster, Edwards was saddened to see the promotions losing such talent and the uncertainty over the future for them:
“It’s a shame you know because it’s a show that obviously put me in the position that I am at. It enabled me to show my skills on a high platform, on TV, and it helped my fan base grow and it’s a shame”.
Signing a 5-fight contract with Bellator, Edwards has a clear goal for how his immediate future with the promotion will play out:
“I’ve got 5 fights on that contract and the aim is for that 5th fight I want to be collecting that world title. That’s it. I have been training with world-class athletes since I started my career, so it is time for me step up and show that I am not scared to fight anyone. I will fight the top guys and I will prove that I am the number one middleweight in the world, not just in Bellator, but the world”.
Edwards is not looking too far ahead into the future having signed his Bellator deal, however he does know that once his 5 fights are up he will review the situation again and decide on what is best to enable him to establish his legacy as one of the greatest middleweights in history:
“I will review the options. My aim isn’t just the money, my aim is to be remembered as one of the greats, to be remembered as one of the best middleweights to ever do it you know. After the 5 fights me and my manager will look at the options and see what is the best way to go about achieving those goals”.
Following discussions with Bellator president Scott Coker, Edwards was also encouraged by the fact that the main man in charge is eager to push “The Assassin” and help him to achieve his overall long-term goals in the sport:
“As I said they have brought me in and they want me to be a star in the UK, Europe, everywhere. The contract they gave me, they gave me the big bags and everyone else the small bags. The plan is to build me up but I have told them that I want the top guys straight away. I don’t know what their plans are but my plan is to come in and take over straight away”.
As part of Bellator’s push for Edwards, they flew him out for this past weekend’s show where he was introduced as their latest signing and had the opportunity to meet the fans. Edwards was surprised by how much the fans in the United States already knew about him and how interested they were to see his career progress in the promotion:
“I was a bit shocked but I knew I had a few people supporting me over there. I have had messages from people stating that they are a fan of mine and they are from this part or that part of America, but at the end of the day if you like good fights, if you like good finishes, you are going to be a fan of me. That’s the main reason. What I liked when I was over there is that the fans really know about the sport, when they are watching they understand the techniques. They are cheering everything that happens in the fight and I like that about them.”
With regards to an opponent, Edwards has someone in mind and is hoping to get a deal done to fight early in 2019 in a battle of Britain against former BAMMA middleweight champion Mike Shipman, who also recently signed with the promotion:
“We have told Bellator that we want Mike Shipman!”, Edwards exclaimed. “That has been a fight that the UK fans have been wanting to see for over a year now. He is ranked number 1 in the UK at middleweight so I would love to go in there, take his spot and let everyone know that I am not here to pick easy fights I am here to take over”.
“We are looking at around February to be honest, we have called for it. They have mentioned maybe New York to me, but obviously Bellator put on a lot of shows all over so I am not sure”.
When I questioned Edwards on his thoughts on the current Bellator middleweight roster, he was less than impressed with what he has seen from his future competition to date:
“I was watching the two middleweights on the main card (Anatoly Tokov vs Alexander Shlemenko) and they are two of the top guys, and I turned round to my manager and the first thing I said was ‘these are stiff as hell’. I am thinking that they are meant to be some of the top guys in the division, over 60 odd fights between them and I can’t see anything that will trouble me. I am looking at them and I just know that I am going to go in there and just dominate my opponents”.
I then asked Edwards for what immediately came to mind when I named some of his adversaries in the middleweight division at Bellator. If you know “The Assassin” his answers would not come as a surprise to you:
Q: “Mike Shipman”
Q: “Rafael Carvalho”
Q: “Alexander Shlemenko”
Edwards: “****, I think they are all **** though”
Q: “Lyoto Machida”
Edwards: “Past it”
Q: “Gegard Moussasi”
Edwards: “Just okay, no competition and that is the thing I can’t wait to prove. A lot of people think that I am just a young guy talking loads and doesn’t know what he is on about, but that is one thing I can’t wait to prove. As soon as I step in that cage they will realise the reason why I say the things I say. I move differently to these guys, it’s not just about power, I set things up differently, I see the shots differently and I want to just prove that.”
Finally, I asked Edwards if he had one last message for the Bellator middleweight roster before embarking on his journey with them:
“The message is…..they are all *****”.
There is one thing for certain and that is the fact that Bellator have picked up one of the hottest prospects in MMA today. There is no doubt that there is a huge buzz surrounding the name Fabian Edwards, with MMA fans in Europe and across the pond eager to see him perform under the Bellator MMA banner.
As always it was a pleasure to catch up with Fabian and the FightPost team look forward to seeing him in action in the near future.