Bellator returns across the Atlantic to the familiar shores of Ireland on February 25th for the absolutely stacked Bellator 291 card.
Many exceptional competitors are set to take the stage at what’s set to be a sold-out 3Arena in Dublin and give the fans a night of pure unadulterated organised violence they will not soon forget.
I caught up with one of these exceptional warriors today Craig McIntosh, who will make his Bellator debut against undefeated Kenny Mokhonoana.
Craig ‘Mop’ McIntosh (4-4-0) is a Scottish professional Mixed Martial Artist currently competing in the Featherweight division, representing Higher Level Martial Arts. He has competed for Budo Fighting Championship, First Fighting Championship, On Top Promotions, Polaris, Grapple Fest, UFL, and Olympus Fight Series and is due to make his debut for Bellator MMA on February 25th.
I’d like to kick things off by thanking you for taking the time to speak with me today Craig, and also to congratulate you on your upcoming inclusion to the Bellator 291 card.
“Thanks very much”
I hope training has been going well in the build-up to your highly anticipated Bellator inclusion.
“Aye it’s been going well, it’s all taking shape. Just trying to get the sharpness back as well, I never stop training, it’s my job, I train every single day. I just think the intensity of it changes when you’ve got a fight coming up.”
Absolutely, especially at Higher Level in particular. No pun intended but I see the high-level work you all put in on a regular basis.
“Oh Aye, some amazing fighters coming through the ranks.”
100 percent, I couldn’t agree more.
Bellator’s trips to Ireland have given fight fans some of the most memorable nights of action and has solidified itself as one of Scott Coker and his team’s most highly anticipated cards over the years.
What was going through your mind when receiving the call to be a part of the evening’s violent festivities at the 3Arena?
“Honestly, I was just blown away by the opportunity, I’ve been in this sport now for about 14 years. Since I 1st started, I’ve competed in every single rule set you can think of in MMA. Going back to the old C-class days, the semi-pro days, when the amateur rules first came across as unified rules in the UK. I’ve been fighting for a long time, to get the opportunity to fight on a stage like that is really what I’ve been working for my whole life.”
And to be Bellator as well, a highly regarded and amazing organisation. They treat the fighters really well, from what I’ve heard by speaking to many on the roster.”
“Aye, that’s a massive bonus as well. It just adds more incentive to go out there and be the best I can be on the night.”
They really are making big moves of late, I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings from the team.
Notable for your love of the sport, both the grappling and MMA aspect of the fight game, your addition will have many in high anticipation for February.
Do you feel that competing in different varieties of close combat gives you the edge when receiving the call to take centre stage on such a promotion?
“I definitely think it helps, especially with this particular opponent. I’m absolutely comfortable against any of the best grapplers in the world, I feel like I can hold my own you know. This guy quite likes his finishes, he’s got quite a few by submission, but I think there’s absolutely no chance of finishing me. I’m looking forward to utilising my skills.”
I was absolutely buzzing when I saw your inclusion, as you said you’ve been in the game a long time and I think it’s highly deserved for you to get the opportunity.
“I appreciate that.”
No problem man.
You are set to test your prolific arsenal against undefeated Kenny ‘Black Diamond’ Mokhonoana. Notably holding victories in 4 promotions, most recently at Bellator’s last trip to Ireland at Bellator 291 back in September.
What are your thoughts on Kenny as you prepare to collide in Dublin?
“Honestly, I’ve not looked into him massively. I’ve watched a couple of his fights, and his history in fighting and stuff, he looks like a good fighter, but anyone does at that level. I’m really just concentrating on myself, just trying to be the best version of myself, u wanna make sure I can beat him in every department.”
A highly admirable response man, focus on your own game and take what you’ve worked on to Dublin.
There will be a huge Scottish aspect in Dublin also. including yourself, you’ll be joined on the card by two of your teammates Keir Harvie and Calum Murrie.
It must be a great feeling to head into battle with them both.
“Aye, I think it’s definitely gonna make a difference, I think there’s gonna be quite a presence for Scottish fight fans as well. I’ve had a lot of people interested in coming over, and I’m sure Keir will bring a big crowd with him as well. It’s gonna be an amazing atmosphere, I visualised the night a few times. I’m just absolutely buzzing, the full experience is gonna be amazing, I can’t wait for it.”
Great for Scottish MMA also, no doubt. The action has made such an impact recently, spanning many big promotions.
“We’ve been like that for a while, I think the grass roots have taken a little bit of a hit of late. When I was coming up, we were getting into fights most months. It’s taken a little bit of a hit, but in terms of the skill set, the levels are definitely there. There are loads of great guys and loads of young up-and-coming guys as well, it’s not gonna stop anytime soon.”
I’m a huge fan of the Scottish warriors, with such passion and determination. I can see 2023 being a golden year for Scottish MMA.
As previously stated, Bellator’s return to Ireland is always a barnburner of an event and 291 is no exception. Other than your inclusion on the night are there any confirmed matchups in particular that you’re looking forward to witnessing?
“I’ve not had a massive look at the card yet if I’m honest, as I’ve just been focusing on training. My lifestyle absolutely fucking mental if I’m honest, I’m really busy all the time. I just look at it as concentrating on what I can control, but it will be amazing. I had a quick glance through the card, so I’ll be looking forward to sitting back after and enjoying it. I’ll be on quite early, so hopefully, I’ll be able to go out and get that win and enjoy the show. More than anything, I’m hoping to put on the best performance I can and chill out with my kids for a bit.
As I said before, thoroughly deserved man, and I’ll definitely be tuning in to catch you out there.
“Thanks very much.”
It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today Craig, I wish you all the best for February, and your training camp, and I hope you have a great Christmas mate.
“Thanks very much, cheers for taking an interest in my fight, all the best to you too.”
My pleasure brother.
Last but not least do you have a message for the fans that will be in attendance and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“Aye, just thanks to everybody that’s supported me throughout my career. Whether it’s showing support on social media showing support in person, and the people that I’ve trained with over the years. I think the Scottish Martial Arts community is in a great place now, really pushing forward in terms of really showing what we can do as a country. I really wanna go out there and show the world what I can do, and end my career on a high note.”