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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Andrew Kapel knows it wasn’t really supposed to end like this.
It wasn’t how Muhammad Lawal saw it going down. It wasn’t how the majority of fans saw it going down. And, if Kapel is blunt, it wasn’t how the Bellator brass probably saw it going down, either.
Kapel (15-6 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) on Friday defied MMA logic in a way and knocked out Lawal (21-10 MMA, 10-7 BMMA) in brutal fashion in the Bellator 233 co-main event in what “King Mo” had said was his final MMA fight. An unheralded journeyman of sorts isn’t supposed to send a longtime fan favorite and former Strikeforce champion into retirement that way.
“I think my team knows me, the people who train with me know me – there’s a lot of people who know my skills,” Kapel told MMA Junkie after the fight. “It’s about time – it’s been time – to put myself out there and come out from the shadows. It’s been my theme all this time. I’ve just been hungry, stalking from far away. No one’s seen me, and I’ve just been watching everything from a distance and not playing. And now I finally get to make my splash.”
Kapel said he thinks he was brought in by Bellator to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb for Lawal’s retirement. But he also said Bellator signed him to a three-fight deal ahead of his promotional debut, meaning even if some expected him to lose to Lawal, they also had confidence that he’s the type of fighter they want to keep around.
“A lot of people wouldn’t (give me fights), and people who would would bring me in to lose,” Kapel said. “I’ve had instances where people didn’t do their homework, they’d bring me in to lose, I’d smoke the guy, and that’d be it, and I’d not get a call back. That happened repeatedly the past three or four years.
“I feel like Bellator – it was a win-win for them. They can either bring me in to lose to their legend and they can send their guy off on a ‘W’ and close his career with what he wanted. … But at the same time, if I get the ‘W,’ if I have a spectacular finish like I did, they have someone to build off. Bellator, they use their media well and they like viral videos, and I gave them one. And there will be more to come.”
Bellator 233 took place Friday at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The main card aired on Paramount and streamed on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.
For more from Kapel, check out the video above.
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