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With 1 fight left on deal, Bellator 175's Chase Gormley not interested in return to UFC

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Although Chase Gormley eventually would like to redeem himself for the ugly 0-2 run he experienced under the UFC banner, the heavyweight said he’s more than content fighting for Bellator and has no plans to leave any time soon.

Gormley (14-5 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) will fight the final bout on his current Bellator contract when he faces Sergei Kharitonov (23-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) at Bellator 175. The event takes place March 31 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Contract negotiations can go any number of ways, but Gormley’s expectation is that Bellator will do its best to retain his services. He said that will be especially true if he can produce an exceptional performance against his opponent, who is a former PRIDE and Strikeforce standout.

“I like Bellator – they’re really great to me,” Gormley told MMAjunkie. “The heavyweight class is wide open, and I don’t think it would be a smart decision to look at the UFC or one of the other shows. I think (UFC heavyweight champion) Stipe Miocic and all those guys in the UFC are no joke. Bellator is better for where my skill level is right now. I think later on in life, I can make some adjustments and talk about that in the future.”

Another reason Gormley has a desire to stay with Bellator is the fact the organization’s heavyweight division is ripe for the taking. There is no champion after longtime titleholder Vitaly Minakov was stripped this past May, and no formal plans have been announced for the belt. Gormley wants to be part of the discussion whenever a decision is finally made, though, and thinks defeating Kharitonov will do just the trick.

“The heavyweight champion for Bellator is going to be a big draw, so they want to make sure they get the right people there,” Gormley said. “That’s why I want to go out there and finish the fight, because I think it positions to me in a (potential) tournament or in a bigger fight or whatever they decide to do. If I go out there and win a boring decision, it puts me back on the back burner. The best thing I can do is go in there and knock him out. Then it at least gives me the opportunity for the title shot.”

Gormley said he has every intention of knocking Kharitonov out and believes the timing couldn’t be better to make that happen. The nearly 17-year MMA veteran is coming off a disastrous Bellator debut in which he was put out cold in just 16 seconds by Javy Ayala at Bellator 163 in November. It hasn’t been all that long since the one-punch finish, and that alone gives Gormley an advantage, he said.

“I think that his brain hasn’t healed all the way,” Gormley said. “He’s taken a little under four months since he got knocked out. I know from personal experience it takes about eight months for your brain to heal. So that first minute, I’m going to try to knock him out. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll go to Plan B. But I would like to knock him out in the first minute and I would say that’s definitely a possibility. If that doesn’t work out I have some different plans to set some different traps. I feel pretty confident.”

Gormley is confident, but he’s also going to be cautious. Even a diminished version of Kharitonov represents one of the toughest opponents Gormley has encountered to this point in his career, and he takes that seriously. He can relate to the experience of coming back from a crushing knockout loss, which is why he anticipates a better performance from Kharitonov than what the Russian produced in his first Bellator appearance.

“It’s definitely going to be a tougher fight for me, I think,” Gormley said. “Stuff happens, especially at heavyweight, where everybody hits so hard you can’t really get too upset about it. You’ve just got to dust yourself off and come back, and I definitely think he’s going to come back stronger and work on not making so many mistakes.”

While Kharitonov enters Bellator 175 in search of his first win with the promotion, Gormley is looking to make it three consecutive wins. The 33-year-old has won seven of his past eight fights overall and wants to keep that momentum going. Adding a notable name to his resume heading into free agency would give Gormley more leverage in contract negotiations, and he said that’s why it’s crucial to win by any means necessary.

“It’s a crossroads for me really because this is the last fight on my contract for Bellator,” Gormley said. “It’s really going to determine where I’m going to go. Losing isn’t really an option. I’ve got to find a way to win.”

And for more on Bellator 175, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.



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