A fight between Fabian Edwards and Mike Shipman has had fans in the UK licking their lips for some time now. It’s been one of the most desired bouts domestic fans have wanted to see, and the pair of English middleweights are now only a matter of hours away from being locked in a cage together. One way or the other, the score will be settled.
Both men fought for the European promotion, BAMMA, a couple of years ago and were the two standout attractions in their middleweight division. However, just when it seemed as though a huge showdown was on the cards, Shipman (13-2) got signed to Bellator and vacated his middleweight title. Despite being young in his MMA career at that time, Edwards believed that he had all of the skills necessary to defeat Shipman but he would have to wait a little longer to prove it.
At the end of last year, Edwards (8-0) put pen to paper on an exclusive Bellator deal and rumours began circulating once again that the two men were finally set to complete against each other. Both middleweights continued to build up their records and were riding huge win streaks but then Shipman suffered defeat back in the summer which took a little momentum away from the potential showdown. However, the fight finally got booked and plenty of intrigue still surrounds Saturday’s co-main event at Bellator London where Edwards believes he could well be facing the most motivated Shipman yet.
“This fight should have taken place a couple of years back but I think now may be the perfect time for it,” explained Edwards. “Once he lost against Costello van Steenis in June, I wasn’t really interested in fighting him but it was the bout Bellator offered so I just said yes. He’s going to be hungrier than ever and that’s the version of Mike Shipman who I want to face. I’ve decided I just want to put this matchup to bed now and send this man to sleep!”
Shipman remains a very credible threat and that is shown in his 100% finishing rate. In fact, out of his fifteen professional outings, he has never once gone the distance which demonstrates his all-action style in competition. Although he is coming off of a loss to one of the best middleweights in Europe, that was the first time he had tasted defeat since his MMA debut in 2013. Edwards doesn’t think Shipman is that different to other opponents he has already taken out during his undefeated run and is expecting big things from himself in the cage this weekend.
“His skills are the same as every big guy I’ve fought,” claimed Edwards. “He mainly just focuses on power and not the art of being slick and smart. That will be the difference when we come face to face. This fight gets me very excited and I know this will be my best performance to date. I owe myself this performance to show he was never on my level. I’ll take him out in the second round.”
When someone possesses the raw talent that Edwards has, people can always be found guilty of looking ahead and thinking about what match-ups may be around the corner. At 26 years of age, the man known as ‘The Assassin’ still has a lot of time to develop and round out his game. He trains at Team Renegade which is now known as one of the best gyms in the UK where he learns alongside his brother, top UFC welterweight, Leon Edwards. Despite being young, his confidence is always sky-high and the Birmingham resident already knows what he wants after taking out his adversary at Wembley Arena.
“After he defeated Shipman, van Steenis took on John Salter in a main event over in the US but he lost,” discussed Edwards. “I didn’t watch the bout but I saw the result. Even though he was defeated, van Steenis is still a fight I’m targeting next so I can show I am the best middleweight in Europe. His chin needs to be collected and then I want everyone else. I will be getting that belt by the end of 2020 and I don’t care about traveling to wherever Bellator wants me to compete in order to achieve that goal.”
There has been much talk over the past few weeks about the perceived rivalry between Bellator and Cage Warriors. Different notable figures have suggested that fighters who sign with the American promotion aren’t interested in being the best and are only motivated by money whereas those who head to Cage Warriors truly want to be at the top of their divisions. Edwards made it clear that he wasn’t one to get involved in company politics but does not agree with that characterisation at all.
“Look at the likes of me and other fighters who are signed to Bellator,” mentioned Edwards. “We would kill it in any promotion! I plan on killing it in multiple organisations throughout my career. Whoever says that I don’t want to be the best can come and fight me to see if that’s the case!”
Bellator London can be viewed live on Channel 5 at 10pm GMT for fans in the UK on Saturday night and will also be available to watch live in the US on the Bellator Mobile App at 5 p.m.