TEMECULA, Calif. – Daniel James added a powerful knockout to his highlight reel Friday, but Linton Vassell is solidified as the next man up for a crack at gold.
Although James (15-6-1 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) knocked out Marcelo Golm with a three-punch combination in Friday’s Bellator 293 main event, the heavyweight title shot for Vassell has been hinted at in multiple recent Bellator broadcasts.
According to promotion president Scott Coker after Bellator 293, Vassell (24-8 MMA, 12-5 BMMA) will be the next challenger for champion Ryan Bader (31-7 MMA, 9-2 BMMA).
“The title shot is most likely going to go to Linton Vassell, because he’s been on a tear or two,” Coker said. ” But I think (James) is right up there. We definitely will invite him to come fight (at Bellator 297) in Chicago.”
Vassell, 39, has won five in a row at heavyweight, with victories over the likes of Valentin Moldavsky, Tim Johnson, Tyrell Fortune, Ronny Markes, and Sergei Kharitonov during that stretch.
The upcoming heavyweight title fight between Bader and Vassell will be a rematch of their November 2017 matchup. Bader defeated Vassell by second-round TKO due to ground-and-pound.
As for James, the aforementioned Bellator 297 card in Chicago takes place June 16 at Wintrust Arena, and according to Coker, he’ll be a part of it. That notion James later affirmed.
“Yeah, my leg will be healed. I heal like a dog,” James said. “My leg will be healed fast, but you can’t have nothing in Chicago without me. People are already buying tickets. … Chicago, they’re waiting on me.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 293.