Fans are drawn to mixed martial arts for a multitude of reasons. The brawls, the pageantry and the personality are just a few. But one thing that gets every fight fan on their feet, no matter what, is a quick and brutal finish. It is one of the biggest factors that has contributed to Ronda Rousey’s meteoric rise, and it one of the biggest reasons why the resurgent Matt Brown has such a cult following. The attention span of our society has waned and waned since the beginning of this technology-rich era that we are living in. If you are a fighter, the quickest way to make money and rise to stardom is to earn an early finish.

There’s a man fighting in Bellator who has followed this approach. That man is England’s own, Liam McGeary. He has been flying under the radar thus far in his career, but that could change come Friday night. He has a huge stage on which to showcase his talents when he opens up the main card of Bellator 122 in a light heavyweight tournament semifinal bout against Egidijus Valavicius.

McGeary (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

McGeary (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Let’s put McGeary’s Bellator run in perspective. He entered the promotion with only three fights under his belt and immediately went on a tear. McGeary is undefeated in four fights under the Bellator banner. All of those fights have been first-round finishes, and McGeary has spent a grand total of three minutes and 38 seconds inside the Bellator cage. He has an average fight time of under one minute.

Fighters go through grueling training camps to prepare themselves for 15 minutes of war. Therefore, a quick ending like the one McGeary delivers can be anticlimactic or even lend itself to a big adrenaline dump. However, McGeary says that doesn’t happen to him.

“There really isn’t any adrenaline dump,” McGeary admitted to The MMA Corner. “I keep myself pretty relaxed throughout the camp and during the fight as well. After that, everything else is Christmas.”

That relaxed and calm attitude can be viewed as a big factor in McGeary’s success. He gets the quick finishes, but he doesn’t go in there and leave his chin out there for the other fighter to tag. McGeary is a sniper. He has finishes by knockout, TKO and even three via armbar. A lot of fighters have a signature move or a certain way in which they prefer to finish a fight. That isn’t the case for McGeary.

“I take the finish any way I can get it,” McGeary said. “If the arm is hanging out there, I’ll grab it. If the chin is sticking out there, I’ll hit it.”

The weapons of choice between McGeary and the aforementioned Rousey are almost uncanny. McGeary may not have the dedicated judo background that Rousey does, but he has acquired an arsenal of submission skills under the tutelage of Renzo Gracie, and those skills earned him his first two victories via armbar. McGeary may be an Englishman, but he has been training with the team in New Jersey for a while now.

“It’s awesome,” McGeary exclaimed. “Whenever I see [Renzo Gracie] walk into the gym, a big smile just comes across my face. He’s a master.”

As he inches closer to a title shot, McGeary will have to rely on all of the skills he has learned from Gracie and his other coaches and teammates. Bellator’s traditional tournament format seems to be fading away, but McGeary is in one right now. If he wins his next two fights, he could be in line for a Bellator light heavyweight title shot in only his 10th career fight. Other than prodigies like Chris Weidman, fighters don’t tend to win a title that quickly.

Bellator discovered McGeary. He takes pride in that, and he is looking to join the ranks of Pat Curran, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks and Emanuel Newton as homegrown Bellator stars.

“They gave me the opportunity,” McGeary said. “They gave me a chance, and that’s all I’ve been looking for since I started in this game. I want to show them that they weren’t mistaken in giving me this chance.”

McGeary is already well on his way to proving that he was indeed worthy of the chance granted to him, but he will still be looking for a highlight-reel performance on Friday, as this will be the first Bellator card under the watchful eye of new president Scott Coker. The Bjorn Rebney-led team brought McGeary in, but the light heavyweight hasn’t noticed much difference with the new management.

McGeary (L) connects with a left hand (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

McGeary (L) connects with a left hand (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“It has been pretty much business as usual,” McGeary explained. “But, I’m excited to see what Scott Coker has planned for me.”

There are so many roads that Coker could lead his biggest light heavyweight prospect down. Over the past year, Bellator’s light heavyweight division has gone from being almost an afterthought to becoming without a doubt its most star-studded weight class. Newton is the champion, but notable veterans like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou fill out the list of contenders, and other bigger names could be on the way. Some might say that a guy like McGeary, who still has a single-digit number of fights, might not be ready for that challenge, but McGeary is gaining valuable experience, including facing a much more experienced man in Valavicius on Friday.

“I’m expecting a very tough fight,” McGeary admitted. “The guy has been around for a long time and has 37 fights.”

Valavicius in the semifinals and the subsequent tournament final are all that stand between McGeary and those big names.

“I’m always going to be ready to fight,” McGeary explained. “Whether it is Tito, Rampage, King Mo or any of those other guys, it doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, if you can fight, you can fight. And I can fight.”

Liam would like to thank all of his coaches and teammates at Team Renzo Gracie. McGeary would also like to thank his manager, Danny, and all of his sponsors, including Attack Poker, MMA Overload, G-Force Nutrition, and everyone who has supported him. Follow McGeary on Twitter: @liam_mcgeary

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.