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Interview with Emilee King ahead of Bellator 252.

Bellator is back with their constant and consistent fight cards this Thursday from the Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut. Scott Coker has put on a 12-fight, fight card for Bellator 252. Taking center stage is Current Featherweight Champion Patricio Pitbull, who puts his title on the line against the game Pedro Carvalho.

I had the privilege of speaking with Strawweight Emilee King this week on the lead up to her bout with Keri Taylor-Melendez.

Emilee King

Emilee King (3-2) has had an extraordinary turnaround in her career since joining the pro ranks in 2017. King failed to win in her first three bouts, losing by submission in the first round of each.

Since then, King has seemed to have a new lease of life and her confidence is sky-high. She brings a four-fight win streak into Thursday, with three coming via finish. The last outing for King occurred in January where she made her debut under Bellator, sinking in a rear-naked choke and defeating Ava Knight.

A confident and happy fighter is a dangerous fighter. The development and progress is great to see from the 27-year old.

Keri Taylor-Melendez

Keri Taylor-Melendez (4-0) enters the Bellator cage with a four-fight win streak of her own.

All of Melendez’s professional bouts have come under Bellator, so she’s no stranger to the bright lights of a major organization.

Melendez started her career with two successful kickboxing bouts before making the transition into MMA. She has racked up wins over Sheila Padilla, Tiani Valle, Dakota Zimmerman, Mandy Polk and now has the challenge of taking on the inform Emilee King. At 36-years, Melendez is prone to long periods of inactivity, which may benefit King.

Interview

How are you feeling ahead of your second appearance under Bellator, you’ve had a period away from competition, has that allowed you to add more tools to your arsenal?

King – “I feel ready! I have known about fighting my opponent since February. That time has allowed me to refine and add so much to my game. I always, after every fight, look back and say what can be better? More tools yes but also sharper tools.”

How different has this camp been and felt for you compared to your Bellator debut back in January? Any obstacles and challenges you’ve overcome?

King – “I think Covid has made things challenging for everyone. No one was immune from its impact. In all honesty, though, I don’t have “fight camps”. My training and my schedule are pretty much the same with and without a fight lined up.”

Following your career, you lost your first three professional fights but now have turned it around in a spectacular fashion with four straight wins, and three finishes. How mentally challenging was that to keep going when facing loses to turn that around and does that speak levels on your development and progress as a mixed martial artist the few years? 

King – “I have worked very hard on mental skills training as well as making my life more properly aligned. At KMAA we often say better people make better fighters. We read many books on sports psychology and developing mental toughness. I am surrounded by a team and family who believe and love me unconditionally. I hope that my record is a reflection of that.”

Your opponent in Taylor-Melendez is (4-0) and has fought all her professional bouts under Bellator, how do you view her as a fellow competitor and how do you think you guys stylistically matchup against each other? 

King – “I think she is a game opponent. I know she has been training for me just as long. So I except this to be a heck of fight.”

Both yourself and Melendez have been out of active competition for some time, do you expect ring rust to play a factor for both when use guys step in there or are you not a believer in ring rust? 

King – “Ring rust is real. I did one combat Jujitsu match over the summer just to try to stay active. But at the end of the day mma is its own sport. Since it has been a while for both of us its a pretty even playing field in my opinion.”


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