Exclusive Interview With Bellator light heavyweight Liam McGeary
In 2015 Liam McGeary was riding high, the reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion, he had an unbeaten record of 11-0 and was coming off a successful title defence against Tito Ortiz. But in MMA it can go wrong so quickly, losing his title to Phil Davis and was 1-4 and on a two-fight skid going into his fight with Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 213 in December.
After an impressive performance McGeary got his career going again with a 3rd round stoppage of Lawal.
McGeary knew his own career was on the line going into the fight in Honolulu. I asked him how much pressure he felt being on the first real slump in his MMA career.
“Haha yes it was well pointed out on several occasions but deep down I know what I’m capable of and those 2 fights were not anything to go off. I know your only as good as your last fight but f..k that, I know I’m better. So no, I didn’t feel any pressure really, I knew it was there but I was more excited and determined to show you I was far from done.”
Once the Bellator light heavyweight champion, but the fight with ‘King Mo’ was potentially a career ending fight should he lose. I asked McGeary if it had crossed his mind that a 3rd loss in a row could very well mean the end of his career.
“Yes it definitely was in my mind that another loss would have been the end of my career. But to be absolutely truthful with you. I wouldnt have given a s..t. Me as a fighter doesnt determine who I am, I would have jumped back on the steel and continued working in the building trade. Always handy to know a trade, it’s always gunna be there.
But I met the right people, the most important people came into my life and I had actual responsibilities for once in my life. So right there and then I knew what I had to do. And that’s work.”
Much of sport at any level is part mental, I wondered if McGeary had elements of doubt in his confidence, say letting his punches flow properly.
“I completely agree with you there, your head has to be completely aligned with your body. Your body isn’t going to do what you want it to do if your head is up your arse or in the clouds. When I started training for Mo, my head was completely on my shoulders and focus is back to where I need it to be, there was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to let my punches go. I got something worth fighting for again.”
McGeary put on a good all round performance against ‘King Mo’ stuffing most of the takedown attempts and managed to get up off the floor without taking any real damage when he was taken down, before finding the punches to end the fight in the 3rd. I complimented him on his performance and asked if he felt the same about the fight.
“Thank you mate, yes I worked on everything, needed to put on the performance that I did and am buzzing about how it all went down. I have my teammates and my coaches to thank for that! They pushed me in the right directions.”
With the win that might just have saved his career, I asked McGeary when he wanted to get back in the cage again and if he had any names in mind.
“I want to get back in there as soon as I can, no one in mind yet but am talking with my team and Bellator to figure this out. But all I know I’m back to my old ways again and very f….n dangerous for anybody”
With one title run already on his resume, did McGeary want another run at the belt.
“I’m not even bothered about that, if it comes it comes, I’m just going to concentrate on beating everyone up at the top. Would it be nice be the 2 time champ, yes, but it’s got to put food on my table and a roof over me and my family’s head this time.”
My first memory of MMA is like many others, seeing the very first UFC on a VHS video cassette, I asked McGeary if he could remember his first memory of the sport.
“My first ever MMA memory would be sitting on my sofa with my mate, smoking a joint watching Tito Ortiz fight I think, saying I could best him in a fight.”
Of course as the sport often plays out, McGeary did fight and beat the UFC Hall of Famer.
I always like to ask fighters if they could change one thing in MMA what would it be, McGeary’s reply is difficult to argue with.
“Haha the f…..g payment plan and better healthcare for us fighters. We put it all on the line everyday and batter our bodies knowing that if we get injured in the process and we don’t have insurance… we are basically f….d.”
The MMA career of Liam McGeary still has a few chapters to run yet, and win or lose there is no doubt it will be some ride.