By the end of 2019, Bellator’s middleweight division could have a new contender in England’s Mike Shipman, who looks to improve to 14-1 at Bellator 218.
Mike Shipman hasn’t lost a fight since his pro debut in 2013. Has never gone to a decision in his career. Now at 13-1, it’s the kind of run that is bound to turn heads in any weight class, in any promotion. As the win streak has built up, so too has the level of competition. Former UFC fighter Craig White is on the list, and Shipman snapped the three-fight win streak of Scott Futrell at Bellator 210 last November. Returning at Bellator 218 in Thackerville, Oklahoma this weekend, he’ll take on Hracho Darpinyan — himself undefeated since 2015.
When it comes to that finishing streak, “it’s not even something I think about as a game plan,” he told Cageside Press. “I think it’s just— my attitude toward a fight is, during a fight, you want to finish that fight. I don’t look at is so much as a sport. I’m not looking to win a game, I’m looking to win a fight.”
While he won’t turn his nose up at a decision, “I’m always going to be looking for a finish.” His style — he describes himself as a power puncher who has a tight squeeze when it comes to submissions — and attributes speak to that. He’s got some skilled teammates helping him along to his goal, including fellow Bellator star Michael ‘Venom’ Page.
At Bellator 200 last year, Shipman really hit the radar with a 10 second finish of Carl Noon. On that experience, he said “it was cool, getting reposted by 57,000 on Instagram.” Though he admits, MMA fans have short memories, and it’s quickly “on to the next thing.” Being on “such a stacked card” also added to the experience, however.
His return at Bellator 218 will be no walk in the park. It’s unlikely to be over in 10 seconds either. “He’s durable,” Shipman said of his next opponent, Darpinyan. “He’s got good power in his hands.”
“It’s going to be an exciting fight, but I don’t think he outclasses me in any aspect. So I think it’s going to be an exciting fight, but I think I finish it in round one or two,” he added.
If Shipman keeps winning, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t get a step up in competition soon. In fact, “I see Darpinyan himself as a step up,” he told us. “He’s got a strong resume, he’s an exciting fighter. I think a good exciting win over Darpinyan puts me in a very good position for my next fight. A household name.”
Beyond that, he’s also targeting a bout at home. “I’d love to fight back in the home country, in London, in front of the home crowd.” That would be fortuitous timing, with Bellator making a strong push in the U.K. thanks to new deals with Channel 5, Sky Sports, and their European Series.
“I think [those deals] are really going to make it more mainstream, in Europe at least,” he said of Bellator’s push back home. And that’s good for the sport in general, not just in viewership but in sponsors and the like.
None of that will matter in Thackerville, however. There, he’s simply focused on the win, predicting another finish. A knockout.
Bellator 218 takes place March 22 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK.