After posting back-to-back unanimous decision victories to gain entry into the Bellator Season 4 Heavyweight Tournament finals, it took Cole “The Polar Bear” Konrad just four minutes and 45 seconds to finish his most dangerous opponent to date last Thursday night becoming the first-ever Bellator World Heavyweight Champion. Konrad pulled off a rare Keylock submission on powerful striker Neil Grove during Bellator 32 in Kansas City to force the tap after successfully taking the fight to his territory, the canvas.
In retrospect, Konrad says he knew the massive Grove would be out of his element on his back.
“It was something we worked on. I knew if I could take him to the ground I would have a huge advantage. That was the game plan and everything just worked out well,” said Konrad. “Once I got him down and got a little ground and pound going, I knew he’d put his hands up trying to block. Fortunately as I started going for his head, I was able to grab his arm and transition right into a Keylock.”
Konrad is now the second heavyweight title holder fighting out of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy along with UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar. Konrad says this fact is significant for the general morale at the gym.
“There’s only a handful of us [heavyweights] training there, so we’re obviously doing something right,” said Konrad. “It’s good for all of us to know that things are moving in the right direction.”
Konrad’s road to the finals, on paper, should have presented a challenge to the two-time Division I NCAA Wrestling Champion. Drawing decorated Spanish submission-fighter Rogent Lloret in the quarterfinal round, Konrad easily controlled the three-round fight, taking him down with ease and imposing his will to gain the unanimous decision victory. In the semifinal round Konrad faced previously undefeated Damian “The Polish Pitbull” Grabowski and again was able to dictate the location of the fight, repeatedly putting Grabowski on his back where he pummeled the highly touted European prospect on his way to the unanimous decision victory.
Now able to check a major accomplishment off of his list, the newly crowned Heavyweight Champ says he’s ready to relax for awhile.
“I’m just going to sit back and let my batteries recharge for the next couple of weeks. I’m going to head over with Brock for his fight this weekend and kind of just let my mind rest from fighting,” said Konrad. “I’m just looking forward to defending my belt and seeing where this brings me.”
Always seeking a new challenge, Konrad has recently begun taking night classes at a local law school. He says after his fighting career is over, law is absolutely something that he would like to focus on.
“Definitely once fighting is over it’s something I’d like to look into. It’s a good change of pace from working out. It’s a totally different mindset from fighting and a real challenge, so I like it,” said Konrad.