After an impressive run through Bellator’s Heavyweight Tournament in Season 3, Bellator Heavyweight World Champion Cole “The Polar Bear” Konrad will step into the cage for the first time since his Championship fight when he takes on veteran knockout artist Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello in a heavyweight bout on April 23rd from the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Oklahoma.
“Cole had three very dominant performances for us last season on his way to becoming our first Heavyweight World Champion,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “I’m expecting big things from Cole, and Paul will provide a fantastic test for our young champ.”
Before entering MMA, Konrad (7-0) came into mixed martial arts arena with a reputation as one of the most decorated heavyweight wrestlers to ever make the transition into the sport. As a wrestler at the University of Minnesota, he notched two NCAA Division I Heavyweight Championships in the 285 lb division. Now undefeated and a Bellator World Champion, “The Polar Bear” is ready for the tough task that is Paul Buentello.
“I’m not taking Paul Buentello lightly for one moment,” said a modest Konrad. “I feel like this fight with Paul is going to be the toughest fight of my career, and that’s exactly how I’m preparing for it. Just because he’s a little older doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous. He has a ton of experience, and that definitely works to his advantage.”
The experience Konrad mentions should work to Buentello’s favor, as the former King of the Cage Champion has spent time with the UFC and Strikeforce in his nearly 15 year career, and currently trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) alongside UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez and others. With an impressive 17 knockout victories to his name, it’s no secret the strategy “The Headhunter” will employ.
“With a nickname like “The Headhunter”, most of my opponents know that I’m looking to stand and bang,” said Buentello. “I’m definitely expecting for Cole Konrad to try to get me to the ground as soon as possible. I have to pull the trigger in this fight. I got into this sport making a name for myself for putting my hands on my opponent’s faces, and I definitely want to get back to my roots in this fight. I plan on standing my ground and putting my hands on Cole.”
Even with his experience, Buentello (29-13) knows he is seen as the underdog in the upcoming fight; a notion he will try and use to his advantage.
“In my mind I see this fight like David versus Goliath. Cole Konrad is a lot bigger than me, and a lot of people are expecting for him to beat me. They’re expecting for him to take me down and hold me down, kind of how David was supposed to lose against Goliath. I know what I’m expected to do and I know what I’m capable of doing, so it’s up for me to go out there and perform the way I know I can.”
Buentello will get that chance on April 23rd at Bellator 42, live on MTV2.