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Following spectacular win, Liam McGeary vows to take belt from Bellator champ Emanuel Newton


In a Bellator light heavyweight division overrun by retread match-ups, aging stars, and made-for-TV feuds, Liam McGeary is above all else a welcome breath of fresh air. For the better part of two years, the six-foot-six Englishman has fashioned the Bellator cage into his own personal playground, perfecting the art of the walk-off knockout while twisting his foes into knots when those fistic flairs of his fail to suffice.

But if the opening act of McGeary's Bellator run was impressive, it's culmination was no less spectacular. McGeary's sealed up his sixth straight first-round finish (and a cool $100,000) this past Friday, when out of nowhere he slapped on a Bellator Special -- the rarely seen inverted triangle -- coaxing a quick tapout from Kelly Anundson and guaranteeing himself the next shot against 205-pound champion Emanuel Newton.

"It just presented itself," McGeary said of the submission on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I was fishing around for either the inverted triangle or I was trying to hook his arm, or I was trying for an Americana or a sweep. So I was just playing around with a few things. I didn't realize how much time was actually left on the clock, and then when my left leg hooked in front of his face, I just sunk it in then. I knew once my legs wrapped around his neck, it was going to choke him out. I catch a few people in that.

"Having the long limbs definitely helps," added McGeary, a 31-year-old prospect who hails from the small island of Jersey, right off the coast of France. "People don't realize how dangerous they actually are. I mean, my legs, they're skinny little things, but they cause some problems."

At this point it's too soon for McGeary to know an exact date when he and Newton will tangle, but as the final light heavyweight to benefit from Bjorn Rebney's now-discarded tournament format, McGeary has been assured that the champion will indeed be the next man in his sights.

Newton is coming a highlight-reel finish himself, having knocked Joey Beltran out cold with a third-round spinning back fist at Bellator 124. Still, the fight was relatively indicative of Newton's Bellator tenure in general, as his awkward style made for a sluggish and often slow start before the abrupt flash of brutality which signaled an end to the match.

"His performance was okay, you know," McGeary said. "I mean, he's been out for a while and Joey Beltran, he pushed him and pushed him and pushed him. Some may say [Beltran] was winning the fight. This is MMA, anything can happen in MMA. You can't really look away for a second because something like that may happen.

"I've spoken to Emanuel, he's a good dude. He's just a very interesting guy. His fighting is definitely a product of that. Everything is unorthodox, you don't know whether he's going to throw a kick or a punch, or if he's going to spin ‘round and maybe even try for a takedown, which adds to all the excitement of the fight. It makes a fight a good fight when you don't really know what's going to happen."

The vast physical differences between champion and challenger were apparent in the aftermath of Newton's win, as stout and compact eyed down lofty and lanky in the center of the Bellator cage. More than a few words were exchanged during the pair's post-fight staredown, but according to McGeary, anything that was said came strictly from a place of respect.

"I think we were just pumping each other up, you know," McGeary said. "He'd just finished his fight, I was still buzzing from my fight. And realize, me and Emanuel, we're cool. This is a job at the end of the day, and we'll go out there and put on a very good show. I want that belt and I know that he's not going to just give it over to me. It's going to be a fight, so I have to go train hard and I'm going to take it off of him."

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