Former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug “The Rhino” Marshall (17-6) will face Brett Cooper (19-7) this Thursday at Bellator 95 in the promotion’s eighth season middleweight tournament finals. $100,000 and a shot at 185 pound champion Alexander Shlemenko is on the line.
Marshall started off his Bellator run with a 22-second knockout win over Kala Hose in a tournament qualifier at Bellator 82 back in November. He returned in February at Bellator 89 to score another first round knockout win, this time over Sweden’s Andreas Spang in the middleweight tournament quarterfinals.
In the semifinal round in March, Marshall faced Russian Sambo Master Sultan Aliev at Bellator 92 and walked away with a split decision victory. Out of “The Rhino’s” 17 victories, it was only the second time in his career he’d won a fight via decision.
But like any striker who is known to have the power to put opponents to sleep, sooner or later they face someone who wants to take them to the ground and keep it there at all costs, even if it creates a boring fight that is not entertaining the fans. And if you know anything about “The Rhino” you know he likes to bring the excitement.
Marshall talked to Pro MMA Now Radio about Aliev’s lay and pray tactics:
“Yeah you’re damn right I was frustrated. I’m like dude, really bro? You’re making this crowd boo. And I know they ain’t booing for me, they’re booing at your ass. I’m just not a huge fan of the lay and pray and I’m super stoked that the judges seen it the way it should have went. I was a little surprised one of the judges seen it 30-27 for him. I’m like really, 30-27? Where are you getting that from? Are you talking about his fancy footwork that he was running? This guy must have been doing cross fit or something. I needed my f—- Nikes to run and catch this guy. I’m just stoked to be in the finals bro.”
Brett Cooper is riding a six-fight win streak. His road to the tournament finals included a unanimous decision win over Norman Paraisy at Bellator 89 in February and then a third round TKO win over Dan Cramer at Bellator 92 last month.
Marshall told us what he expects from Cooper on April 4:
“He’s a grinder. To me, to be honest, not trying to hurt nobody’s feeling but just calling it from the hip, he doesn’t carry a lot of power. He really strings his combinations together well to his takedowns, which I think that’s what he’s going to try to do. He’s going to try to get in on my legs… He’s not running his mouth. He’s a really really humble guy, he’s a cool dude or whatever and that’s all fine and dandy. We can be friends afterwards but while we’re in there we ain’t going to be nothing. You know what I mean. He says he’s going to stand and trade with me, and I can guarantee you 100 percent that’s exactly what’s NOT going to happen. That’s mind-blowing to even think about. If this is true, I want to know who’s advising him that this is a good idea, cause this is definitely not going to be in his favor. He’s going to come in pitty-pat pitty-pat pitty-pat and then I’m going to catch him with a big heater and then he’s going to go to sleep and I’m going to get my $100,000 and then I’m going to get my title shot.”
Well, there you have it. He’s not politically correct but he calls it like he sees it and on April 4 you can see it when Doug “The Rhino” Marshall faces Brett Cooper at Bellator 95 in the season 8 middleweight tournament finals LIVE on Spike TV.
By the way, that was just a snippet of all “The Rhino” had to say. There was a lot more, some of which we just couldn’t print, but if you hide the kids you can listen to the entire interview below starting at about the 3:00 mark.