It’s been just over a year since we’ve seen Josh Copeland step inside the Decagon. But that doesn’t mean “The Cuddly Bear” has been hibernating.
Copeland’s last outing inside the Decagon was a Fight of the Year candidate against WSOF heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov. For five rounds, the two men battered one another with punches that would’ve sent a lesser man to the canvas. As entertaining as the bout was, Copeland couldn’t help but feel some measure of disappointment. Not just because it would be Ivanov who had his hand raised, but also because the two athletes had to depend on the judges.
“I don’t mind losing,” Copeland said. “Losing is a part of life and that’s where we grow. I think the only frustrating thing with that fight is that for as long as that went and as hard as we were throwing, one of us should’ve went out. Every way I envisioned that fight going, the one I never saw was going to a decision.”
It’s that type of mentality that few would expect from someone nicknamed “The Cuddly Bear.” The heavyweight is seemingly always smiling and speaks with a tone that one would not expect from a MMA heavyweight. Despite the fun-loving nature of the #PFLEverett competitor, Copeland is fully aware that it’s all business once the cage door closes.
“When I’m in there, it’s not a joke. I’m going to knock him out. It’s going to be me knocking him out or him knocking me out.”
Looking to avoid Copeland’s knockout strikes is MMA veteran Mike Kyle. The American Kickboxing Academy standout has fought in virtually every major MMA promotion in a career that began back in 2001. With over 35 professional fights to his resume, Kyle is no stranger to competing under the bright lights. For Copeland, it’s a fight that makes a lot of sense.
“Honestly, I love it,” Copeland said of the matchup. “I like the match up. Let’s get these guys that are studs in there. I want to show what I can do. I’m excited about this one.”
Copeland has reason to feel confident for his upcoming #PFLEverett bout. Since dropping the fight to Ivanov, Copeland has rattled off consecutive wins in the Sparta Combat League promotion. Both of those wins came via first-round stoppages, including a submission victory in 49 seconds.
Outside of the confidence from getting back-to-back wins, Copeland has also made some changes behind the scenes. He used to train at Grudge, the gym made famous by UFC heavyweights Shane Carwin and Brendan Schaub along with former WSOF lightweight champ, Justin Gaethje. Copeland decided to switch camps after he felt the need to find something Grudge couldn’t offer him.
“With Grudge, I was main training partners with [Justin] Gaethje and all these small guys. I needed some bigger guys. As of November, I’ve been training with the Elevation guys. I also drive up to Fort Collins, which is about an hour away, to go up and train with Ryan Schultz. He’s a very smart guy and really helps me a lot with my wrestling.”
Copeland anticipates these improvements to be on full display at #PFLEverett. When Copeland and Kyle meet inside the Decagon, it has the makings of “the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.” The two men have a combined 28 finishes and could end the bout at any given moment. MMA fans will surely want to make sure they don’t miss the fireworks inside the Decagon when these two heavyweights clash.
Undefeated featherweight Andre Harrison will put his 16-0 record on the line July 29 in Everett, Wash. when he matches up against a streaking Steven Rodriguez. The event will be televised LIVE and FREE on NBCSN. (Click here to locate NBCSN in your channel lineup.) The July 29 event will also be available on the FITE TV app outside of the of the U.S. for $9.99.