By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Bellator Heavyweight Champion Cole Konrad will have his first heavyweight “superfight” in the organization on April 23, as the organization officially announced his previously reported fight with UFC and Strikeforce veteran Paul Buentello for Bellator 42.
The fight headlines the event, which will take place from the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Okla. and will air live on MTV2.
“Cole had three very dominant performances for us last season on his way to becoming our first Heavyweight World Champion,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “I’m expecting big things from Cole, and Paul will provide a fantastic test for our young champ.”
Konrad, the two-time NCAA D-1 wrestling champion from the University of Minnesota, made the transition to MMA as a pro at the beginning of 2010, and put together a 7-0 record through his first ten months of competition. Now, he takes on the most experienced opponent of his short career in Buentello, a former title challenger in the UFC with a 29-13 record.
“I’m not taking Paul Buentello lightly for one moment,” said Konrad. “I feel like this fight with Paul is going to be the toughest fight of my career, and that’s exactly how I’m preparing for it. Just because he’s a little older doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous. He has a ton of experience, and that definitely works to his advantage.”
For Buentello, who has gone just 2-3 over his last five fights, including a knockout loss to Tim Sylvia, this fight is an opportunity to get a win over a hot young fighter with exposure as high as he can get outside of the Zuffa fold.
“With a nickname like ‘The Headhunter’, most of my opponents know that I’m looking to stand and bang,” said Buentello. “I’m definitely expecting for Cole Konrad to try to get me to the ground as soon as possible. I have to pull the trigger in this fight. I got into this sport making a name for myself for putting my hands on my opponent’s faces, and I definitely want to get back to my roots in this fight. I plan on standing my ground and putting my hands on Cole.”
“In my mind I see this fight like David versus Goliath. Cole Konrad is a lot bigger than me, and a lot of people are expecting for him to beat me. They’re expecting for him to take me down and hold me down, kind of how David was supposed to lose against Goliath. I know what I’m expected to do and I know what I’m capable of doing, so it’s up for me to go out there and perform the way I know I can.”