Titan Fighting 18: CEO Joe Kelly Speaks About Changes, Bobby Lashley, John Ott

Bloody Elbow Radio spoke with Titan Fighting Championship CEO Joe Kelly in advance of his show tonight, Titan Fighting Championship 18, which emanates from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. Here is an excerpt of that conversation:

Matt Bishop: Jens Pulver's fight with Brian Davidson tonight is at 140 pounds. What led to the catchweight?

Joe Kelly: Both Brian Davidson and now Jens want to fight at 135 pounds. Brian took the fight on two-and-a-half weeks notice after the original opponent, Mike Powell, took a fight unbeknownst to us and was defeated on tribal land, so he wasn't allowed to fight on this show, so we had to scramble to replace the opponent. It's a little difficult for guys who are a little bigger who fight at the lower weight classes to make that cut with that notice. We decided to do the catchweight of 141.

MB: Now I want to ask you about this Mike Powell situation. I saw Titan had announced the fight and looked him up and saw he just lost. Then I saw you replaced him. Were you blindsided by the whole thing?

JK: I was. His manager supposedly was, too. It's a real shocking deal. He probably thought he was going to go on tribal land and maybe it would go unnoticed, maybe get a win and no one would care, but it explicitly stated in our bout agreements that once you sign on to fight for us, especially since we're on TV, there's not a lot of shows that are on national television, so it's a big deal to fight on a show like this to some degree, and he just didn't respect the contract, took a fight and got beat. It's just one of those typical occurrences in the fight game. People think they're slick so they try things out. 

MB: Does it make you scratch your head and think, 'What's this guy thinking?'

JK: You would think a guy like that, he had a pretty decent record and an opportunity to fight a legend of the sport, Jens Pulver. People might think Jens doesn't have much left, so if you're coming in as the opponent in that bout, that's your chance to make a name for yourself. I would think you would, instead of fighting for a little bit of money on a small show, I think you'd table that for a little bit and focus on a fight with a true legend of the sport, maybe make a name for yourself, get an opportunity to fight for us again or one of the other bigger promotions, but obviously he didn't see it the same way. Took a fight, got beat, so he got cut. 

Stay with us after the jump as Kelly talks about how he signed Jake and Jared Rosholt to fight on this show on last-minute notice, why Rory Markham and Drew McFedries had to pull out, his thoughts on Bobby Lashley and how he Titan has a new local star on their hands in John Ott.

MB: You've also had some other last second changes to this show. Rory Markham and Drew McFedries are out, but in their place you ended up getting Jake Rosholt and Jared Rosholt to fight on your show.

JK: It's one of those things. It's a typical show. You get on a roll. We had the Mike Powell situation and kind of had an eerie feeling there was going to be some changes. Then I got a call from Drew's manager on Monday night saying he had a stomach infection and it was pretty serious and he'd be in the ER all day and was not going to be able to fight. So you can take one hit like that. We were looking for another opponent and then about an hour-and-a-half later, we got the call again and Rory got a movie role that was for pretty big money, so he wouldn't be able to take the fight. So we lost our co-main event and our feature bout. So my team and I got together and we scrambled. We thought of some guys who would be able to replace them and fit the bill and the Rosholt brothers are great. They are high, high-level fighters. Both are very young and Jake is looking to make his way back to the UFC and Jared is fresh out of college looking to make a name for himself. These are two of the best unsigned prospects in the game right now. Little known fact, Jake could go to the UFC whenever he wanted. He's a pretty sought-after guy. He's taking his time, honing his craft. He doesn't want to jump into it like he did before. He wants to be ready this time so he can make a run at a title. For us to get those guys on last-minute notice is pretty exciting. ... Jake and Jared are going to be awesome. I think when it's all said and done, they can go down as if not the best, the best brother tandem in MMA. We're very happy to have them on the card.

MB: Do you have them both on one-fight deals since it's such short notice?

JK: Yes, we do. We're definitely in talks to have them fight for us again, but yeah, this is just a one-off deal for this fight.

MB: Now I want to go back to Titan 17. A lot of the talk was based around Bobby Lashley and his fight with John Ott. Of course, Ott will be fighting Jake Rosholt at 200 pounds on this show. Were you kind of mystified by his performance at Titan 17?

JK: No. Bobby comes from a heavily wrestling-influenced background and he's an excellent, excellent wrestler, but he's still learning the game. You have to understand his body has been transformed and molded into that of a professional wrestler. ... So it's going to take a little bit of time for him to get back into athletic shape. ... He's going to take a little time to come back down and get back in the mold he was when he was a real standout amateur wrestler.

MB: Now let's talk about John Ott. In that fight, you could just feel the crowd support swelling for him, especially after he took that beating in the first round. By the end of the fight, every single punch he threw was just getting a huge ovation. Do you feel like after that fight that you might have something on your hands in John Ott as the underdog, hometown guy?

JK: It definitely had a Rocky feel to it. I had so many people say to me, "We were waiting for the Rocky music to kick in that last round.' There's a good shot it could be the same type of fight with Rosholt. He's just super tough. He was an amateur standout himself and he's just a real tough, hard-nosed, difficult to finish guy. So that's not an easy fight for Jake to take. That's always the type of guy you don't want to fight. You don't want to fight a guy that's hard to finish, tough, game and is always going to be in there. That's what adds a lot of intrigue to this fight. I don't think Jake's going to mow him over by any means. What we have with John here now is that he's super popular. Everyone is going to be there cheering for him.

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To hear Kelly speak on his promotion's relationship with HDNet and plans for Titan Fighting Championship 19, listen to the entire interview on Thursday's edition of Bloody Elbow Radio (31:10 mark).

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