Photo courtesy of Will Paul
MASSACHUSETTS HEAVYWEIGHT TYLER King is stepping on two week’s notice to face Virginia’s Keith Bell on the main card of “CES MMA 41” at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on Friday, Jan. 27th, 2017. The fight will air live as part of AXS TV’s telecast beginning at 9 p.m. ET. King replaces Juliano Coutinho, who suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the card. King has won his last three fights and is predicting a fourth consecutive win next Friday following a heated exchange with Bell on social media nearly four months ago.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Jan. 18th, 2017) — Some fighters get unnerved when they find out their opponent is injured within two weeks of fight night. Not Keith Bell.
“I was relieved,” Bell said. “I went from fighting a stud to a bum.”
Originally scheduled to face Juliano Coutinho on the televised main card of “CES MMA 41” next Friday at Twin River Casino, the Newport News, Va., native will now fight Massachusetts vet Tyler King in hopes of squashing a beef that began four months ago on — where else? — social media with a heated keyboard exchange between the two heavyweights.
The King-Bell bout is one of seven on the AXS TV portion of “CES MMA 41.” Showtime is 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 27th, 2017 with the main card scheduled for 9.
Tickets for “CES MMA 41” are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The war of words between King and Bell (6-8, 4 KOs) began innocently enough on a congratulatory Instagram post by CES MMA in honor of heavyweight Pat Walsh, who had just scored a big win at “CES MMA 38.” Bell inquired about fighting Walsh on the next card, but King intervened, claiming he’d take down Walsh and several other noteworthy heavyweights before adding Bell “isn’t invited” because “I don’t beat up fighters with under .500 records,” a knock on Bell’s 6-8 mark.
The grenade launched by King set off a day’s worth of digs from both sides, but next Friday’s fight truly didn’t materialize until Coutinho was forced to withdraw from the card due to injury. When presented with the opportunity to settle the argument in the cage instead of online, both sides happily obliged.
“I don’t even care about the opponent, but he opened his mouth, so he can get hurt,” said King, who has won three in a row and last fought at Bellator 163 in November in a rematch against regional rival Josh Diekmann.
“I wanted to get another fight in. CES was in a rough spot with [Coutinho] falling out and they’ve been good to me, so I figured I’d return the favor. I don’t stop training. I’m constantly just working on everything to get better. I went from a relaxed state of mind to, ‘OK, we’re going to war in 18 days. Let’s do it.'”
Aside from their mutual disdain for one another, the only thing Bell and King have in common is they both fought Providence heavyweight Greg Rebello, who is also featured on the “CES MMA 41” main card. Nine months before he fought Rebello himself, Bell made the trip up north to help Rebello prepare for his fight against King in June of 2015.
“They told me to just put pressure on Greg and not really do anything else or have any skill,” Bell quipped. “That’s what I did to prepare Rebello for Tyler.”
Rebello won the fight by third-round knockout and also stopped Bell in the opening round of their scheduled three-round bout last March. Since then, King has won his last three by submission, including the win over Diekmann — his second win over the Connecticut native — a victory against Eric Bedard in the rubber match of their epic trilogy and a win over Lorenzo Hood, whom Bell called “the biggest bust in MMA history.”
“For him to say I fight bums, on January 27th, he’s going to be woken up and not understand why he lost to a ‘bum,'” Bell said. “I never talk like this, but he just brings it out of me. That’s not going to change how the fight will go. His talking does nothing. At the end of the day, they will lock the cage door behind both of us. After all of that talking, then what?
“I’ve always been respectful. I’ve never been ‘that guy.’ I just don’t think Tyler has any respect or he’s just that punch-drunk and doesn’t know any better, but he will know in [nine] days.”
“I don’t take easy fights,” King countered. “If anything, this is a gift for CES. ‘You want me to put this bum out of his misery? Sure, I’ll do you a favor.’
“I do all my due diligence. I watch my film,” King continued. “I saw the fight between him and Greg. He is not tough. He tapped to strikes. If you tap to strike, you are a bitch. There’s no two ways about it. He can crack, I’ll give him that, but he has nothing else. I have so many more tools in my toolbox. If he messes up once, he’s in for a rude awakening.”
King presents a much different challenge for Bell than Coutinho, whom Bell says is an all-around better fighter than King because of his expertise in the ground game. Next Friday’s fight will be Bell’s third with CES MMA. Each of his last 10 fights, win or lose, have ended in the first round.
“I’m at the point in my career where I’m only going to fight the toughest guys around,” Bell said. “CES has given me a lot of opportunities where they normally wouldn’t have to. I’m not a ticket-seller. I’m not from there. The only thing I offer them is they know I come to fight and they know I’ll fight my ass off. It would mean a lot to me to win one for those guys for giving me the opportunities they’ve given me.”
Bell has spent more time in recent months improving his cardio and his boxing. King remains unimpressed. The North Attleboro native and former NFL offensive lineman is in the midst of his longest win streak since 2013 and is confident he’ll make it four in a row next Friday despite stepping to the plate on just two week’s notice.
“In my last three fights, I’ve showed off some dynamic skills,” King said. “It shows that any holes in my game have been filled in adequately. We just keep adding new wrinkles, new cracks, new holds, new submissions. With that being said, we’re going to put on a display.
“I like to fight guys in the cage for money. This is my passion. I was up at 6 a.m. [yesterday] teaching Jiu-Jitsu, then strength and conditioning. Then I did some film work, took a nap, took on some more clients, taught some more classes. You know where I am right now? I’m driving down 93 South going to Connors MMA to do some sparring, then some more strength and conditioning, then I’m going home to sleep my life away and then tomorrow morning I’ll do it over again. You know why? Because I’m ready for this.”
The main event of “CES MMA 41” features reigning CES MMA Featherweight World Champion Matt Bessette (20-7, 5 KOs) of Stafford, Conn., defending his title against Missouri native Kevin Croom in a five-round. Rebello (20-7, 12 KOs) returns to face Minnesota’s Danyelle Williams (8-4-1, 5 KOs) in a three-round bout. Also in the heavyweight division, Walsh (8-2, 3 KOs), a Stoughton, Mass., native, battles New Hampshire’s Kevin Haley (6-3, 2 KOs) in an intriguing regional showdown.
The main card also features a flyweight bout between undefeated New Britain, Conn., vet Carlos Candelario (4-0, 1 KO) and fellow unbeaten Miguel Restrepo (4-0, 2 KOs) of Queens, N.Y., plus a bantamweight battle between Kody Nordby (7-4) of Woonsocket, R.I., and Illinois vet David Garcia (4-1, 2 KOs).
Nordby looks to continue his climb back to the top of the division following his loss to Andre Soukhamthath against the dangerous Garcia, who recently handed Rico DiSciullo his first career loss in September via submission at “CES MMA 38.” Candelario makes his fourth appearance with CES MMA and first since “CES MMA 36” in June when submitted Roosevelt Archie via guillotine in the opening round of a scheduled three-round bout.
Fresh off his comeback win at “CES MMA 40” in November, East Providence, R.I., bantamweight Dinis Paiva (8-6, 5 KOs) faces Findlay, Ohio, vet Jordan Espinosa (8-4, 1 KO). Paiva ended a 13-month layoff in his last bout with a first-round knockout win over Zane Behrend and returns to the network television stage for the first time since his loss to Nordby in October of 2015.
Espinosa last appeared with CES MMA in 2014, but has since won five of his last six, including a victory over Rafael de Freitas at Legacy Fighting Championships 36.
The six-fight preliminary card includes a female flyweight bout between Bourne, Mass., native Sarah Click (1-1) and newcomer Maria Rivera of Framingham, Mass., plus a bantamweight bout between unbeaten Kris Moutinho (2-0) of Milford, Mass., and Fredericktown, Ohio, native Jason Rine (0-1). Fellow Ohio native Raymond Yanez (4-8, 1 KO) of Columbus battles Milford’s Richie Santiago (2-0) and lightweight Connor Barry (2-0) of Stoughton faces New Jersey’s Travis Foster (0-2).
In the flyweight division, David Baxter (3-1, 1 KO) of Bellingham, Mass., battles Pawtucket, R.I., vet Dan Cormier (4-6, 1 KO) and Quincy, Mass., light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez returns in a separate three-round bout.
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