Linton Vassell takes on Sergei Kharitonov at Bellator 234. The event emanates from Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. Longtime light-heavyweight Vassell makes his second foray into the Bellator cage as a heavyweight against the legendary Kharitonov. It is the main event of a card set to go Thursday, November 14th at 4:00 pm EST. Vassell looks to overcome a three-fight losing skid by defeating a man in Kharitonov who is 11-1 since 2011.
Kharitonov has been a notable name in the MMA world for over a decade now. Despite runs in PRIDE and Strikeforce, Kharitonov was not a fighter Vassell saw much of in his early fandom days. Vassell stated, “The only people I really knew were like Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Chuck. Them names. I never really watched K1 or that type of stuff. I didn’t really know Kharitonov until Bellator. That’s no disrespect. Obviously I’ve been watching his fights once he joined Bellator.”
The long-time light-heavyweight made a move to switch divisions after a tough weight cut and subsequent loss to a former 205 lb champion in Bellator. Linton Vassell said, “I had the fight against Phil Davis and that was when I decided to leave light-heavyweight.” Heading into this bout, he has figured out how to carry the weight around better this time out at heavyweight. Vassell is an intriguing addition to the Bellator heavyweight landscape.
Despite the loss in his Bellator heavyweight debut to Valentin Moldavsky, Vassell still had takeaways from the fight. He quipped, “I felt the energy but I just felt like that extra weight I had on me because I’d never been at that weight that heavy. Obviously played a factor on the ground. Other than that I felt strong and powerful. If I could take him down, I did. I busted him up.”
Despite not seeing as much of Kharitonov’s earlier work, he is still cognizant of the skills he’ll bring to the table. Vassell said, “He is very good at what works for him. I’ve seen what I can do to prevent him from doing what he wants to do. I feel like I’m just going to be the better athlete all around.”
To recover from hard training ahead of fights, Vassell uses things like acupuncture, a chiropractor, and CBD for recuperation. One would need as many avenues for rest as possible when considering the sparring partners Vassell regularly clashes with. Jairzinho Rozenstruik is a big fixture in the camp but Vassell shouted out some other killers too.
Vassell said, “He’s (Jairzinho) my main training partner for this fight. Vitor Belfort….Aung La N Sang. Some top boys getting ready and I’m getting them ready as well. A lot of them I’ve fought now.”
Vassell has now had a six-year run with Bellator and he stated, “Crazy right? Time goes fast when you’re having fun.” Part of that long Bellator journey has seen him twice contend for the light-heavyweight title with one of those fights happening with Ryan Bader.
Even with switching a weight division, Vassell still sees Ryan Bader as the guy firmly affixed to the throne. As far as if a Ryan Bader fight in 2020 will go down, Vassell quipped, “I’m not looking past my next challenge. I’ve got to deal with him first. Then we’ll start talking about a couple things.”