Most fighters cut their teeth fighting on local circuits in front of home fans. That’s not the case with Iowa’s Paul “The Gentelman” Bradley, who is set to headline Bellator 129 in his native state.

When Bradley steps into the cage at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluff, IA, on October 17th, it will only be his third time competing in front of an Iowa crowd as a pro.

“Definitely excited,” Bradley told The MMA Corner. “Nice fighting in front of my friends and family back here in Iowa where I’m from and to headline a show like this. I’m just thankful for Bellator giving me the opportunity.”

A fighter who is used to fighting in front of hostile crowds, Bradley is looking forward to putting his skills on display in front of his friends and family in his home state.

“It’s just good,” Bradley said about fighting in Iowa. “You have that moral support of friends and family there. You just know that they have your back. Sometimes it can get a little lonely when you are fighting way across the country and you have no one in the crowd, and everyone’s cheering against you. It’s just good to be able to have that support behind you.”

Bradley got his Bellator career off with a bang as he defeated Bellator Season 6 Welterweight Tournament winner, Karl Amoussou, via unanimous decision. But then in March of 2014, in the Quarterfinal round of the Bellator Season 10 Welterweight Tournament, Bradley was upset by Nathan Coy.

Now Bradley is looking to get back on track.

“I just want to prove that last fight wasn’t me,” Bradley said. “It was definitely, not making any excuses; it was an off night for me. Things weren’t clicking and I just couldn’t put anything together. I’d like to have a better performance. I’d rather have a great performance like my first fight in Bellator, when I fought former tournament champion Karl Amoussou. I went out there, heck I lost the first round, but came back the second and third, and took those rounds decidedly. It was in front of friends and family in Cedar Rapids, IA, and it was awesome.”

The loss to Coy was a real eye-opener for Bradley, who learned the truth about over-training.

“I cut down my work load,” Bradley said. “I was working five, six days a week while I was coaching and teaching. I was getting no time for rest. I think I might have been over training a little; I thought more was better instead of less is more. A lot of things leading to that fight just weren’t clicking and I let things get to me. So I cut back on some things and focused way more on fighting. I think it’s going to be beneficial.”

Now that he refocused and simplified his schedule, Bradley is extremely confident heading into Bellator 129. But while he is supremely confident, he understands that Neer is a very dangerous opponent. If Bradley is going to be successful in this bout, he is going to have to set the tone early.

“I think it’s just keep a high pace and take the center of the cage right away,” Bradley said. “Neer does his best work when he has you backing up and he is bullying you. I have to keep a high pressure, put my punches with my takedowns, and that will open everything else up.”

While this is the first major event Bradley has headlined, he is used to the spotlight. As a former All-American wrestler at the University of Iowa, Bradley has proven that he can perform when the pressure is on.

“I’ve been there before,” Bradley said. “I’ve been in tough fights and tough wrestling matches. There’s a couple of wrestling matches where I literally couldn’t tell you what happened in the end of them, just because it was that tough and that exhausting. You know how to dig down deep; you know how to cut weight right, you know how to deal with a lot of fans watching you. I wrestled at the University of Iowa where you have 15,000 to 16,000 fans watching your match. I think those things have definitely helped and prepared me.”

Neer is a tough fight for anyone and he has fought some of the best the sport has seen, but Bradley knows he has the tools to win. And while he is not looking past Neer, Bradley sees this fight as a potential turning point in his career. A turning point that will ultimately lead to the Bellator welterweight title.

“I’m definitely looking to make a run for the title,” Bradley said. “These last couple years I have left in my career. I started off strong with Bellator, beating Amoussou, then had the setback in March against Nathan Coy. Now I’m looking to put it all together and make that run. It starts this Friday night against Josh Neer.”

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.