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Bellator’s Paul Bradley Wants To Rise Like His Iowa Hawkeyes (Exclusive)

paul bradley

Paul Bradley waited six months for his second shot at Chris Honeycutt.

The former University of Iowa All-American wrestler didn’t disappoint, scoring a thunderous first round finish of the previously-unbeaten Honeycutt recently at Bellator 148.

The victory came just 40 seconds into the co-main event fight, providing Bradley (23-6) with redemption after a 2015 bout vs. Honeycutt was declared a no-contest due to an accidental headbutt.

More importantly, though, it marked the fifth win in his last eight fights overall since 2011.

“It ranks high (on my all-time wins list),” said Bradley, during a recent interview with CagedInsider. “I hope it puts me in line for a contender fight for the title (next).”

After stepping inside the cage with Honeycutt once before, Bradley figured he’d be in for a grind with a fellow former NCAA wrestler. Instead, it quickly turned in his favor, as the 32-year-old from Iowa picked up his 15th stoppage win.

“I definitely felt I was going to win (coming in),” he said. “But I didn’t think it would happen so fast.”

Despite being the more seasoned fighter, Bradley was considered the underdog to Honeycutt. As someone who fought his way through high school wrestling to become a state champion and Cadet National champion, there was nothing that was going to mentally deter him.

“(Being the underdog) definitely fueled my fire to go out there and beat him in front of his home crowd,” Bradley said. “I didn’t really feel any pressure. I just wanted to finish what we started in July and come out with the win.”

After entering into MMA in 2006, Bradley was signed on to The Ultimate Fighter two years later. He was selected by former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for his team after earning a win vs. Reggie Orr, but never competed on the show. He would sign with Strikeforce in 2009 and even fought current UFC middleweight titleholder Luke Rockhold.

Following a stint with the UFC again, Bradley signed with Bellator in 2013 and has spent the better part of three years working his way up the ladder. Along with the win over Honeycutt, he’s also scored decisions over veterans Josh Neer and Karl Amoussou.

“I’m happy where I’m at, especially with all the sponsor stuff going on with the UFC (and Reebok),” Bradley said. “I don’t have anyone in particular (for my next fight in mind), I just want someone who propels me to the title.”

He did mention a target date of April 22, the same card that will feature Benson Henderson challenging for the Bellator welterweight title against Andrey Koreshkov as one of interest, adding “I’m hoping for a No. 1 contender match (that night).”

Much like Bradley, his alma mater, the Hawkeyes, will be looking to unseat Penn State atop the NCAA wrestling world later this year.

“I’m thinking the Hawks can,” he said. “It’s all about peaking at the right time.”

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