Joker’s deadly serious about return to cage
CRAIG JOHNS BREAKS THE FIRST RULE
AARON Chalmers admits there are ranging emotions as he continues his preparations for his mixed martial arts return on February 9.
The former Geordie Shore reality TV star is chief support as Bellator return to Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, with a huge show stacked with North East talent.
For Chalmers it will be his first time back in the cage since Bellator London in May last year when BAMMA agreed to wave his contract for the huge card in the capital.
But when he beat Ashley Griffiths impressively to move to 4-0, the top Usbased promotion immediately expressed a desire to sign him, only for BAMMA to stand in his way due to their previously agreed deal.
It’s led to a frustrating period of inactivity for the MMA latecomer before a court date late last year finally cleared him to sign a two-year, six-fight deal with Bellator.
He’ll fight Corey Browning (4-2) in Newcastle in the first of those bouts, and said ahead of it: “It’s a mixture of delight and relief to finally get this sorted.
“It’s been a bit of a stressful time that was not needed – going to court and all that carry on. They’ve let a lot of fighters go but kept me and took me to court, bearing in mind I’ve probably done more for them than anyone.
“I got them an ITV4 TV deal, a biggest selling show in Newcastle and all things like that and they held on to me and dragged it on to court.
“But that’s the past now and now I’m moving forward with a great company in Bellator and what better way to start this new contract with a big Newcastle show.
“I was really nervous last time because I had loads of people I knew telling me they were going to be there.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable though and I think this will be even bigger and even better because Bellator put on an amazing show. “So this time I’m more excited than anything. “By the time fight night comes around I’ll have been out of the cage for nine months so what better way to get back to it than this?!”
Browning, on paper, will be Chalmers’ toughest assignment to date.
Initially Chalmers had hoped to secure a big fight with fellow ‘celebrity’ fighter Baby Slice (Kevin Ferguson Jr – son of famous fighter Kimbo Slice), but Browning ripped up the script by beating Ferguson Jr in October.
Chalmers continued: “I was hoping for Baby Slice this fight but Corey Browning beat him.
“It didn’t make sense to fight Baby Slice on a loss, so we took the Browning fight. I could have fought Baby Slice but I didn’t want him. I wanted the kid that beat him.
“Baby Slice is like a rival. The two big names either side of the water and I think beating Browning would make a bit of statement and show where I am at compared to him.”
That Baby Slice fight might yet happen in the future. There is a six-fight contract with Bellator and Ferguson is signed to the same company. And Chalmers has said he plans to fight on beyond the two year deal.
But for now his focus is only on Browning – a fighter he is hoping will provide some tough rounds after four stoppages within the opening round so far.
With many doubters when he first announced his decision to take up the sport, Chalmers ironically nicknamed himself ‘The Joker.’ But his main aim is to prove he is anything but when it comes to his MMA career – so much so that he sacrificed his previous party lifestyle and most of his Christmas in the build up to this next fight.
“We’d been talking with Bellator and we knew that was where I was going, but with the contract situation it was up in the air when I would be fighting,” he added. “So I was always in the gym, in a proper training camp and knowing once I got a date I was already on my way to being ready to fight.
“I’ve been plugging away. We’re moving down to 155lbs (lightweight) for this one and everything is running smoothly. The weight cutting is going that well I could afford to have a pudding on Christmas Day! But I was straight back into training on Boxing Day.
“This is in my hometown. It just fuels the fire all the more. I want to win there. I don’t want to lose in Newcastle!”
Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.co.uk and Bellator.com, as well as the Metro Radio Arena box office.
It’s been a bit of a stressful time that was not needed – going to court and all that carry on Aaron Chalmers
■ Aaron Chalmers