Bellator 225 takes place at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., this weekend (Sat., Aug. 24, 2019, featuring a Heavyweight rematch between Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) versus Sergei Kharitonov (28-6, 2 NC), who will try to redo a fight that ended in 15 seconds because of a foul earlier this year.
That’s not the only pairing of man mountains on deck for Saturday night. Indeed, Bellator 225’s main card is a slew of big boy bouts led by promising Heavyweight prospects Tyrell Fortune (6-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC), as each looks to hand the other his first career mixed martial arts (MMA) loss.
Schaffroth is known for bringing quick and decisive violence to his opponents. His professional MMA debut only lasted 11 seconds, and thus far in his career no fight has made it past the first round. He has finished four straight by form of knockout, including both Bellator fights so far. Fortune, though, could be the opponent to finally test him. A blue chip Olympic hopeful when he signed with Bellator MMA in 2015, Fortune has quickly adjusted to the MMA format, developing his hands into lethal weapons. In fact, four of six wins (67 percent) are via knockout, including his last two fights in a row.
Schaffroth recently chatted with MMAmania.com about his upcoming showdown with Fortune at Bellator 225, how he got interested in MMA and much more.
“I was a wrestler. I grew up wrestling. My brothers were six and eight years older than I am, and at that time when I was a kid I just wanted to do everything they did. They wrestled and so I just pestered my mom everything I could to get on the wrestling mat.”
Even though that’s often a straight line into the sport if you’re a gifted athlete, Schaffroth says things took a hard left when his collegiate life never got on track.
“Down the line I went to college and wrestled in college, and I was trying to make football happen. I wanted to play football, be a football player, but school didn’t really work out in my favor. I had some troubles with that. After my second time losing a scholarship to grades and academics, I found myself in the oil field working as a derrick hand.”
Schaffroth quickly realized that wasn’t the life he had envisioned for himself and resolved to see if his wrestling skills could translate into being a professional fighter.
“I had a few experiences where it was time to leave. I needed to come home and try to be a professional athlete and use my abilities before they were gone. So I started training with Matt Lindland at Team Quest and started my amateur career, and that was back in 2013.”
It didn’t take long for Schaffroth to realize had finally found his calling inside the cage.
“Three minutes and three seconds is my longest fight. Tyrell apparently doesn’t agree but it’s my athleticism, my athletic ability is what allows me to move (so fast). I have solid dense bones, and I’m able to hit what I’m trying to hit and move my hands quick enough to create enough force to put ‘em down. That was all pretty much just raw ability.”
I couldn’t let the words “Tyrell doesn’t agree” go without finding out why Mr. Fortune seems to have a problem with calling Schaffroth an athlete.
“I was told that when he was asked how he felt about the fight, he told that person he wasn’t worried about me (because) I’m not an athlete. I don’t think Tyrell respects me, I don’t think he’s ever respected my abilities, I don’t think he’s ever thought I was on his level or as an equal. I’m gonna take advantage of that wholeheartedly.”
Perhaps that disrespect comes from the fact they crossed paths on the mat at Clackamas Community College before their professional careers began.
“He thinks I asked for this fight, he’s taking it personal apparently, he thinks I’ve gone out of my way to call him out and make this about him. His name was on the other end of the phone call five weeks ago and that’s about it.”
He’s okay with hard feelings, because Schaffroth says Fortune will have just as hard of a time beating him in the cage.
“I’m taller and longer than Tyrell is, I have the reach advantage, so that’s going to be in my favor. This isn’t my first idea for an opponent, but I’m confident and I’ve been training, I’m going to have to fight everybody in the weight class eventually to get where I want to go. Now is the time. Bellator wants it to happen now, they sign the paychecks, so I’ve got to make it happen.”
And he’s not going to rest at changing Tyrell’s fortunes — he’s already got his eye on one of the main eventers of this card.
“I think (Matt) Mitrione and I are very similar. We’re pretty close to the same size, and we both have that quick explosive athleticism. I think I would like to face him. Matching me would probably be the worst case scenario (for him). Other than that, I would probably like to fight Fedor (Emelianenko) and get one back for Chael.”
Schaffroth is not just saying that idly. His history with “The American Gangster” goes back a long way.
“I train with him currently. I was training with him for that fight against Fedor, and then he retired, so he hasn’t been around but… when we changed to American Top Team he was there, and when we’ve been at Gracie he’s been there. Chael is one of the reasons I got into fighting. He was around at CCC when I was wrestling, when I was competing. When I was wrestling with Tyrell Fortune when we were teammates, Chael was coming in and working out with us. That was what seared in the back of my mind I could fight if I wanted.”
And want he does — he wants to make sure he finally gets his respect on Saturday night.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 225: “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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