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Vassell Moves on From Bader Rematch, Hopes to Represent Bellator Brand at PFL 1

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It will be a new beginning of sorts for Linton
Vassell on Thursday night.

The 40-year-old Englishman will make his
Professional Fighters League debut at the organization’s

first regular season event of 2024 when he meets Denis
Goltsov in a featured heavyweight bout at the Boeing Center in
San Antonio, Texas.

It wasn’t initially the matchup “Big Swarm” had in mind, but things
changed when Ryan Bader
suffered a first-round knockout loss to Renan
Ferreira at PFL vs. Bellator on Feb. 24. Instead, Vassell will
take part in the PFL season.

“I actually thought I would be fighting him [Bader] next. But he
lost,” Vassell said during a media call. “… Who wouldn’t want to be
in the tournament where you get a belt, you get money and you get
to fight the champion at the end? I don’t think the Bader fight
will happen now, to be honest. I’m on a different road.”

While Vassell will be competing under the PFL banner, he stil
considers himself a Bellator athlete at heart. He has fought for
Bellator since 2013, challenging for light heavyweight gold against
Bader before eventually moving up to the heavyweight division.

“Even though I’m on the PFL brand, I’m still from Bellator. I
fought for Bellator for so long,” Vassell said. “I’m coming over
now. I’m Bellator, I’m gonna come over and I’m gonna represent.
It’s pride, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what organization you’re
from, you want to show that your organization is the best.”

Vassell enters the matchup against Goltsov on a five-bout winning
streak, a run that includes first-round stoppages of Tim Johnson
and Valentin
Moldavsky in his last two outings. Goltsov, who came up short
against Ferreira in the 2023 PFL final, is typically one of the
favorites in the heavyweight field. However, Vassell plans on a
similar outcome against “The Russian Bogatyr.”

“Same treatment. Not taking nothing away from him,” Vassell said.
“[I] hit the 40 age and I just keep rolling. I think my last
performance showed that I’m not stopping.”

If Vassell is able to make it through the PFL season, he’ll set his
sights on the some of the big names in the promotion: Ferreira and
Francis
Ngannou, who has yet to make his promotional debut.

“Those are the super fights I think everyone wants, to be honest,”
Vassell said. “To fight Ferreira and Ngannou and get paid some
serious money, I think everyone would take that fight.”

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