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Brennan Ward calls things as they are (which is kind of refreshing)


One thing about Brennan Ward is he’s not a person to sugarcoat anything, nor give in to fight game hyperbole. After he defeated Roger Carroll at Bellator 140 — a crushing first-round knockout with enough seismic impact to show up on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays — he came backstage at the Mohegan Sun and made faces at his pay check when it was handed to him. He scoffed at it. With a ring of reporters waiting for a word, he was Brennan Warding the hell out of the moment.

And he didn’t even admire his handy work, either.

Ward didn’t see his replay of the knockout on ESPN’s SportsCenter, because he likes to "disappear" after fights. He turns his phone off and slinks into seclusion. His friends only told him about it later. Even if he did see it, he wouldn’t exactly have been doing cartwheels, either.

It’s not who he is.

"I mean, I guess it’s cool — when you think about it it’s kind of cool, but it’s just a top ten," he says. "No one even remembers that now. Stuff like that comes and goes. There’s incredible top plays every single day, so that’s just one second in the entire world of sports. Who even remembers that now? People forget about a perfect game that was thrown, you know what I’m saying? Never mind a f--king knockout."

That is Ward. The no-nonsense 27-year-old New England native isn’t going to do anything but give an honest answer. He’s been that way from the beginning, from his regional days in CES to his regional days at Bellator to rise up the ranks and title shot against Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 114 all the way back to his regional days with Bellator. He’s been the same dude.

"I just see things the way they are," he says, not so much from a place of enlightenment but from common sense.

And realistically, as he gets set to fight Dennis Olson in his fourth straight fight at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun at Bellator 144, it’s almost as if he gives even fewer sh-ts than usual. Almost. He still wants to put the beat down on Olson. Being a Connecticut native, he still wants perform well in front of his hometown fans. But it’s clear he’d like to get out a little bit. Stretch his legs. Leave the state of Connecticut and the New England coast. See some of the other venues.

"I would like to get out of there," he says. "When you’re from a small town, everybody knows what’s going on, everybody’s going to be there."

Sometimes you just ask a question of Ward and wonder at his utter lack of pretense. When asked about Olson as an opponent, for instance, he shrugs his shoulders, as if to say, "come on, man."

"I feel that my skills are better all around," he says. "Yeah, he’s a tough dude. He’s been around. I’m sure we’ll have a good fight, but I pretty much know I’m going to win."

Ward has been through the iterations at Bellator, from the tournament days of Bjorn Rebney (he won the Season Nine middleweight tourney) to the Scott Coker tent-pole extravaganzas. He’s fought locals (like Sam McCoy and Aaron Johnson) and he’s fought some names (like Shlemenko and Tamdan McCrory). He’s fought guys on short notice and no notice. None of that matters to him.

"It’s been happening my whole career," he says. "I’ve always had guys back out, fill in, back out and fill in. Sometimes two or three times in a single fight, so it never bothers me. I’m not one to put a whole bunch of focus on who I’m fighting anyways, because I think it’s all about what I’m doing out there. I don’t fight anyone else’s fight, I do what I’m going to do no matter who it is. They can honestly tell me who I’m fighting on the night of the fight and I don’t give a sh-t."

As you might expect, Ward doesn’t place too much emphasis on winning a world title, either. If he gets another crack at it, he’ll take it — but he says he’s not losing sleep over it.

"I don’t think about it," he says. "I just go one fight at a time. My life doesn’t revolve around MMA. It’s just a job. So I’m just trying to have fun with my life man, and I’m trying to win every fight I’m in. So if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t I could care less."

Don’t get it wrong. Ward loves MMA and has dedicated much of his life to its components, beginning with boxing as a kid at his old man’s gym in Waterford and then wrestling through high school and college at Johnson & Wales. He’s been competing his whole life. It’s just that he has other things going on, too. He loves the outdoor sports, like skating and snowboarding, which he does at his parent’s house in Vermont. He surfs whenever he can at Long Island and Rhode Island. He feels he has options and a blue-collar work ethic. He doesn’t like to idle.

"I’m never hanging around and watching TV or playing video games," he says.

Fighting is what he does. He loves it. But he just doesn’t get snagged in the hype game, nor does he intend to any time soon. He just goes in the cage and engages. He puts guys away, or he goes down trying. All but one of his 14 fights has ended in a finish, usually in his favor. Not always. He’s 11 up and three down. Asked if sees things going any differently against Olson on Friday, Oct. 23, he shrugs his shoulders in that very Ward way.

"I see me finishing it either in the first or second round," he says.

Simple as that.

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