TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 4/11: Dominic Mazzotta talks to MMATorch about next Bellator fight, Cormier controversy, Rockhold vs. Silva (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributore

Newly signed Bellator fighter Dominic Mazzotta adopted the “Honey Badger” nickname after showing the infamous YouTube video to other members of this gym. But while the honey badger in the video “doesn’t give a f—,” Mazzotta cares deeply and describes himself as “conscientious” and “calculated.” Mazzotta says the honey badger attitude refers not to a reckless fighting style, but to his take on all comers mindset.

“I don’t care who it is,” Mazzotta tells MMATorch in a phone interview. “I’m a pretty cautious fighter, it’s not like I just go in there like Chris Leben and just start throwing haymakers and s—. I’m a pretty calculated guy, I try to take my opponent to where he is weak.”

One thing Mazzotta definitely doesn’t care about is the weight he’s fighting at. He is a former champion on the regional circuit at both 135 and 145 pounds and will be making his Bellator debut at 145 pounds against another up and coming prospect, A.J. McKee.

“If you’re going to fight me if you want to bring a 155’er down to 145, you want to come up from 135 and fight at 145, I’ll do it,” he said. “I’ll fight anybody, that’s more the mentality.”

McKee is the son of former MMA journeyman Antonio McKee and has been heralded by many as a “blue chip” prospect and “phenom” who is destined for superstardom. Mazzotta, just like the honey badger, isn’t concerned with this either. In fact, he sees this matchup as a “gift.”

“I feel I match up great with him,” he says. “I feel like it’s a gift from the MMA gods. I don’t think he has anything for me. I don’t think he has anything that I haven’t seen before. He’s a young kid, he has a lot of confidence. I don’t think his skillset is anywhere near mine.”

If Bellator had any plans to use Mazzotta as a showcase for McKee, the “Honey Badger” plans to spoil that party.

“I don’t know if they think they’re bringing me in to lose to this kid,” he says. “But his hype train is going to be derailed real quick.”

Mazzotta takes on A.J. McKee on the main card of Bellator 176 on April 21 at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: Mazzotta is a fighter people should have on their radars if they don’t already. He’s seen success at both 135 and 145 pounds. He’s a versatile fighter, with both knockout power and submission proficiency. He tells me he thinks he’ll submit McKee in the second round. Mazzotta’s only loss was to Cody Garbrandt early in both guys’ careers and has been on a tear through the regional circuit ever since. With Emmanuel Sanchez missing weight last month, Mazzotta could be very close to a Bellator Featherweight Title fight if he can get past A.J. McKee next week.


-Daniel Cormier appeared on Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour” and confirmed that he had difficult last couple days of his weight cut. He said that the scale he was using to check his weight before officially weighing in had him being on weight but the official scale obviously reported him as 1.2 pounds overweight. He was told he had two hours to try again, a rule unique to championship fights in New York, but he instead opted to try again immediately. As for allegations that he used the towel to bear some of his weight, Cormier said: “I’ve got to be completely honest with you, I didn’t even realize I was doing that.”

-Anthony Johnson’s lawyer, Craig Zimmerman, told ESPN that he will be filing an appeal on Johnson’s behalf regarding Cormier’s weigh-in controversy. They are looking for an acknowledgment that something went wrong at the weigh-in, a fine to Cormier for missing weight, and for rule changes to avoid a similar situation in the future.

-Anthony Johnson’s coach, Henri Hooft, told “The MMA Hour” that he thinks Johnson’s new career plans “have something to do with football” and the reason he wasn’t in the cage when Johnson was looking for him to make his retirement speech was because he went to the back “to put another shirt on.”

-Jacare Souza will be a free agent following his fight with Robert Whittaker this weekend, joining Gegard Mousasi as key middleweights on the free agent market.

-Luke Rockhold has reportedly offered to step in to fight Anderson Silva at UFC 212 in June. UFC President Dana White is optimistic that Silva will take the fight but that making it happen will be a “process.”

-The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board is petitioning the Association of Boxing Commissions to repeal the newly instituted rule requiring a fighter to have two hands on the ground to be considered “grounded” saying that the new rule doesn’t fix the issue of fighters trying to “game” the system. New Jersey chose not to accept the new rule when other commission’s put it into place earlier this year.

-Bellator Middleweight Champion Rafael Carvalho has been fined $5,000 by the ABC for jumping out of the cage following his knockout win over Melvin Manhoef in Italy last weekend.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: MONDAY NEWS DIGEST 4/10: Rumble Johnson’s corner exasperated during fight with his strategy, Conor-Floyd latest (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

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