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Liam McGeary on what holds British camps back, Tito Ortiz, his submission game & more

Undefeated Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary talked to the Three Amigos Podcast about this weekend's fight with Tito Ortiz, whether or not he's the best LHW in the world, and why he'd like to play a 'baddie' in movies.

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Bellator

England's Liam McGeary is the first (and only) British fighter to capture a major MMA promotion's belt. The unbeaten light heavyweight took the Bellator light heavyweight title away from Emanuel Newton in February. Newton survived an incredible series of submission attempts, but McGeary fittingly capped off the promotion's "British Invasion" card by improving his record to 10-0 and getting the decision win to become the new champion.

The 32-year-old's next challenge is a title defense vs. the legendary Tito Ortiz, one of the consensus greatest 205ers of all-time. A win for McGeary, even against a well past his prime Tito, would be the most high-profile of his career, especially given the grandiose nature of the "Dynamite" card.

McGeary chatted with the Three Amigos Podcast about his fight with Tito, in addition to who he's backing to win the four-man light heavyweight tournament, his thoughts on the progress of UK MMA, and his interest in movie roles as a bad guy.

Our full interview with Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary starts at the 1:11:50 mark of the audio.

TAP: MMA is considered a "young man’s sport," but Tito has proven to be pretty durable and resilient over the years, and still puts on a pretty decent showing when he fights. Where do you feel the biggest threat with him lies?

McGeary: The biggest threat? I guess his wrestling and experience. He’s a tough dude but I’m going to go out there and show that I’m tougher.

TAP: Tito Ortiz has been talking plenty of trash about you, and you've said in the past that trash talk doesn't really bother you, but do you expect that a win against Tito (even at this stage in his career) can significantly elevate your profile and starpower?

McGeary: Definitely it can. Look where he is and look where I am, and when I beat him, look where I’ll be and look where he was!

TAP: Who are you backing to win the Bellator light heavyweight tournament? And is there anyone in particular from that field of Newton-King Mo-Davis-Vassell whom you'd be most interested in fighting?

McGeary: I’d like to fight Linton Vassell. Just so we can get a show going on in England, fight in front of our home crowd. It’d be nice, it’d be a good show.

TAP: I was about to ask - You're from England, but reside in the US and have fought almost your entire pro career in the States. Do you see yourself as angling for that headlining spot at Bellator’s planned debut in London next year?

McGeary: That’d be awesome. That’s exactly what I plan on being - the headliner.

TAP: Lots of folks are discovering the power of meditation and yoga. Do you use methods like this that make use of focus and centering mentally?

McGeary: No [laughs]. I stand in the cryogenic chamber, that’s as far as I get. But no yoga, no meditating, or anything like that. I like to stay focused because I like to hit things.

TAP: So you’re believer in the use of cryo chambers?

McGeary: Yes, big believer of cryo chambers.

TAP: How long have you been doing this?

McGeary: Since January.

TAP: UK MMA is pioneered by fighters like Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy, and Paul Daley, and you've made a very quick ascension towards the top of your division. How important is it to you to not only represent UK MMA well, but to carry its success to even loftier heights?

McGeary: It’s definitely a good thing. These boys [like] Michael Bisping, they started this journey and I want to carry it on. I want to make everyone know that English fighters can hold their weight and hold their own in America.

TAP: We have a new nickname for you, "The Man of 1000 submissions," because you threw up so many great ones against Newton. What do you think of our proposal?

McGeary: No, because I need to finish one of them, not 1000 of them, ya know [laughs]. That wasn’t my intention to throw up 16 submission attempts. I was trying to finish him with one or another of them, you know? That’s not the point of jiu-jitsu.

I think some people were saying that I didn’t have a ground game, from the fight before. ‘Oh, Liam doesn’t have any jiu-jitsu,’ but I finished that inverted triangle on Kelly Anundson, and they still said I didn’t know jiu-jitsu, so I went in there with Newton with the intention of trying to show off my ground game. To be honest, that was just the beginning. I have a whole array of moves [laughs].

TAP: Was there any one particular submission [in your fight with Emanuel Newton] where you said to yourself, "That's a wrap"?

There were a few submissions in there where I thought it was close, but he’s a squiggly little bastard. He was just wriggling around all over the place. With that kimura, his legs kind of came up and he spun around and I’m like "How did you get out of that one? You jammy bastard!"-Liam McGeary

McGeary: [Laughs] There’s a few of them! The kimura in the 1st round -- I don’t know HOW his arm didn’t break with that one. There was the triangle in the first round, the mounted triangle -- if I had 10 more, maybe 5 more seconds -- the mounted triangle in the 3rd. There were a few submissions in there where I thought it was close, but he’s a squiggly little bastard. He was just wriggling around all over the place. With that kimura, his legs kind of came up and he spun around and I’m like "How did you get out of that one? You jammy bastard!" I think I said or something like that.

TAP: As mentioned, you’ve spent pretty much the entirety of your career here in the states. Do you feel that the UK might still be a bit behind the curve in the training aspect?

McGeary: Not so much the training aspect, but more generally, the MMA aspect. The guys over in England train very, very hard. They have good jiu-jitsu and good stand-up backgrounds. It’s not really to do with the training, it’s more the lack of top tier bodies in the gyms. For instance, over there, I’d have like four good people to roll with that would give me problems, whereas now, over here, I’ve got 44 people that will give me problems.

TAP: You've quickly established yourself as arguably the best LHW outside of the UFC, but through your self-assessment, do you believe you're the best light heavyweight in the world right now?

McGeary: Yes, yes I believe I am the best in the world. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

TAP: Did you ever envision any other career for yourself, and if so, what was it?

McGeary: Well, I worked on a building site before MMA. I was a concrete reinforcement specialist. Who wants to work on a building site, ya know? If you can change it, change it.

TAP: We’re seeing more and more fighters popping up in movie and TV roles and commercials. Does that aspect of personal brand marketing hold any interest for you?

McGeary: Definitely! I want to get in the movies after this. I want to be an action movie star, even a "baddie." I just want to get in the movies. That will be definitely cool [laughs].

TAP: You’d prefer to be the bad guy?

McGeary: I do, yeah. I think I’ve got that look. Everybody always says I walk around looking like I’m going to punch them in the face, when actually I don’t, that’s just the look I have on my face. So, I do have my wrestling face [laughs]. My wrestling face is an angry one, so I think I could play a baddie very well.

TAP: Do you have "invisible lats syndrome?"

McGeary: What’s that?

TAP: It’s where you walk around like your lats are too big to allow your arms to hang flush at your sides.

McGeary: Oh, you mean like I’m carrying two invisible rugs? [Laugh]No, no, I just walk around like I’m pissed off all the time. My eyebrows are frowning, like I’m squinting from the sun or just that I’m generally always pissed off [boisterous laughs].

Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie HaynesThree Amigos PodcastIain Kidd and Mookie Alexander. The full show is available right here or via the embedded player below.