Eblen ascended the 185-pound Bellator mountain earlier this year by dethroning all-time great Gegard Mousasi. In the June 25 headliner, “The Human Cheat Code” made the most of his championship opportunity, which he earned after extending his perfect professional record to 11-0 with seven straight wins in the promotion.
Eblen made it eight in the Bellator cage and 12 overall by dominating “The Dreamcatcher” en route to a unanimous decision victory. In doing so, the Iowa native handed the Iranian-born Dutchman his first defeat since 2019.
Having successfully defended the gold twice after beginning his second reign on the throne, Mousasi had firmly established himself as part of the global middleweight elite. And with his victory over the veteran, Eblen now sees himself as comparable to the best 185lbers around the world.
That includes the UFC’s middleweight king…
Eblen Tells Adesanya: “I’m A Different Animal”
During a recent interview with The AllStar, Eblen was asked about the blockbuster championship clash coming up between Israel Adesanya and his two-time kickboxing rival Alex Pereira. Predicting the result of the UFC 281 main event, the Bellator titleholder backed a successful retention.
Eblen suggested that Adesanya’s kryptonite is a fighter who can present dangers on the feet but also outwrestle him, something he believes was evidenced by Jan Blachowicz’s win against “The Last Stylebender” last March.
“I feel like you need to be someone who can strike and wrestle if you wanna beat Izzy. Someone like a Jan (Blachowicz),” Eblen said. “Someone who can strike with him, maybe not be as high level of a striker as him, but can strike with him, and then can also outwrestle him. That’s his kryptonite.”
With that, Eblen also described his own strengths. So, when asked how he thinks he’d match-up with the Nigerian-New Zealander, “The Human Cheat Code” was unsurprisingly confident.
“He’s an athletic dude. I feel like he puts in the work to work on his takedown defense or work on his getups. But he hasn’t fought me, and I’m a different animal,” Eblen asserted. “I have crazy good cardio, good chain wrestling; I’m a good MMA wrestler. And I’m developing my striking to where I’m getting dangerous on the feet.
“I bring a lot of problems when it comes to a fight… I’m becoming more and more of a well-rounded fighter, which is creating more problems for opponents like this guy. I think I match-up good, but obviously that fight’s not gonna happen anytime soon and I’m only gonna get better,” Eblen continued. “And who knows, he’s probably in his prime right now.”
While the pair currently ply their trade under different banners, Eblen is still holding hopes of one day sharing the cage with Adesanya as part of his pursuit of a star-studded résumé in mixed martial arts.
“I wish I could fight him right now to see what would happen, but we’re in two different organizations, so it is what it is. I would love to fight him in the future,” Eblen noted.
“I wanna fight the who’s who in MMA, and he’s one of the who’s who. It’s just a fight I want eventually.”
While Eblen will be looking ahead to the first defense of his newly won title, Adesanya is gearing up for his sixth. Having pushed aside the challenges of Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier, “The Last Stylebender” will have a unique task in front of him come November 12.
If he’s to further extend his reign, Adesanya will have to accomplish something he failed to do on two occasions during his kickboxing days — beat Alex “Poatan” Pereira.
How do you think a fight between Johnny Eblen and Israel Adesanya would play out?