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Liam McGeary's path from punching out father's teeth to potential Bellator champ

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Liam McGeary figured he might be pretty good at fighting after that one time he punched out his father's teeth.

"I knocked one of his teeth out, a couple of them," McGeary said during a recent in-studio appearance on The MMA Hour.

Mind you, this act of violence wasn't some sort of family squabble. McGeary's father is a former boxer, and the pair were sparring.

"He was a boxer back in the day, he likes to have a good fight," the 32-year-old native of England said. "It was just sparring back when I was growing up. I was training in Jersey and he was there, and we went a few rounds. Me and him are boys, he's my best friend. We get on really, really well."

That's a good thing, because as it turns out, McGeary's gone from re-arranging his dad's face to the brink of an MMA championship. McGeary, who is 9-0 with nine finishes, challenges Emanuel Newton for the Bellator light heavyweight title Friday night in the main event of Bellator 134 in Uncasville, Conn.

Dad will make the trip over from England to watch what he hopes will be his son's crowning moment.

"He's happy I've come this far, coming over to America fighting for the world title," McGeary said. "I never thought I'd be doing this."

McGeary, whose six Bellator fights have all ended in first-round finishes, admits he got into his fair share of bar brawls back in the day. And while he made great strides as a professional fighter, he got an inkling of how much more ground he still has to cover when he was asked to come train with Daniel Cormier at the American Kickboxing Academy gym.

The British light heavyweight came in to help DC train for his bout with Jon Jones, but before he could be of much help, McGeary had to get used to his big-league surroundings.

"These are big-name guys, big pictures all the way around the gym," McGeary said. "I'm still new to this game. I'm 9-0, I've only been here a couple years. To get invited to these people, and train with them -- Cain Velasquez is wandering around the gym, Luke Rockhold, DC himself -- it was a great feeling. It was very surreal. It was a few days to find my feet, then I just settled in."

He also crossed paths with a guy who he very well might meet in the cage one of these days, fellow Bellator 205er "King Mo" Lawal. But if you're expecting any trash talk, guess again.

"He was doing his thing, I was doing my thing," McGeary said. "We never got into it. The thing is, he's a real good dude. He's a nice guy. I never really met him, just seen him on TV before, but when I spoke to him, he was a real nice guy."

All in all, McGeary feels he learned much from his time with AKA which has helped him prepare for Friday night's camp.

"To jump into middle of a training camp was intense," McGeary said. "A complete eye opener. The cardio classes, sparring, this is how proper MMA fighters train. When I came back I took a couple things back and my training camp has been just as intense. I see how he was preparing for his fight with Jon Jones and I worked hard."

McGeary is well aware that come Friday, he'll face one of the sport's most unconventional competitors in Newton. The fighter known as "The Hardcore Kid" has been taken for granted every step along his way to the championship, and he's made many an opponent pay during a run in which he's won seven straight and 14 of his past 15.

"He's unorthodox," McGeary said of the spinning back fist-throwing Newton. "I do my thing, he does his thing. You can't take anything away from him. He's a tough guy. He's the champion, and he's champion for a reason. I think a lot of people underestimate him. That's one thing I'm not going to do. I'm not going to underestimate him, because I know he can knock people out. He can take a punch. He's a tough dude. I'll fight my fight."