Schuetzen Park is a banquet hall in downtown North Bergen, NJ that normally plays host to Weddings, sweet 16’s and other gala events. On this particular evening, a ring would be put in place for a night of Muay Thai fights. There, a former Bellator welterweight champion would return to his roots.
Lyman Good returned to non-MMA action for the first time in almost four years on June 1, earning a unanimous decision over Strahinja Ivanovic at World Cup 16. This was a return to the style of competition before his MMA career began to take off.
Before beginning his Bellator career, Good fought in the now defunct Chuck Norris’ World Combat League for the New Jersey Tigers. The Spanish-Harlem native was 3-0, his last win coming over current RFA welterweight Chidi Njokuani, in June of 2008.
“It was definitely fun because it was team based and everything,” Good said to Fightline, about his WCL days. “It definitely established having that team atmosphere behind you. It was definitely a lot of fun and definitely something all this time I’ve been looking forward to getting back to.”
Good’s Tiger Schulman teammates and students were certainly behind him on this night. They filled up a large majority of the crowd, clad in their orange and black t-shirts, screaming “Lyman, Lyman,” throughout the five-round contest.
“I couldn’t ask for any greater support system than having my family Tiger Schulmans back me up and be behind me to support me for every fight,” Good said. “That’s what gets me going.”
Good explained that when any fighter is tired or dealing with fatigue “what gets you by is that heart,” he continued. “When you hear your name being chanted, you have your team behind you, you don’t want to let them down, so that definitely pushes you and encourages you in the fight.”
Just because he was competing in a Muay Thai fight, it didn’t mean the Bellator welterweight lost any of his MMA instincts.
“I’m not gonna lie. There were a couple times I had to snap out of my instincts, I almost double-legged the guy through the ropes during one of the rounds,” Good admitted, before saying how the fight helped him fixate on his striking.
“It kind of stopped the whole element of MMA and kind of focused specifically on just one area, especially an area where I’ve always enjoyed doing and it’s where I’ve shined the most in MMA,” Good explained. “So it was definitely a pleasure to kind of put a pause to everything else and just let my hands do most of the work and sharpen up my stand-up a little bit. It was definitely fun.”
Good controlled much of the action during the fight, landing big strikes, and using his strength in the clinch to at times man-handle Ivanovic with tosses to the floor of the ring. Ivanocic, to his credit showed he had a great chin, and although appearing dazed at times, avoided being knocked out.
A unanimous decision win over Dante Rivera at Bellator 95 was Good’s last fight for the promotion, and he is moving closer to the end of his current contract with the promotion.
“As of now there is one fight left that I have,” Good explains. “My management is completely behind that right now with negotiating on the table with Bellator and whatever possibilities might be out there. But I will guarantee you, you guys will be one of the first people to hear what’s going to happen next as far as my career.”
The former champion has amassed a solid career and put together an impressive 15-3 record, a record that can attract other suitors to inquire about his services.
“There has been word that the UFC had contacted me awhile back, questioning my contract with Bellator right now,” Good confessed. “My management is dealing with that right now. There taking care of it. I just focus on fighting. They take care of the direction that my career is going.”
Good explained that with Bellator currently being in the middle of a contract dispute with former-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, there is a concern with his own situation.
“There’s definitely concern with that,” Good admitted. “It’s actually sad. It’s pretty f***ed up the whole situation with Eddie Alvarez, especially now that he’s in his prime and he should be fighting right now and they are putting him on the self,” he continued. “As an observer of all this and being part of Bellator it’s a little disconcerting to see all this happen. We’ll see what happens. We’re going to go to the negotiating table right now and we’ll see what happens next.”
Good hasn’t been scheduled for the summer series that starts in June, but he wants to return sooner than later.
“Always, you always want to stay active and stay busy,” Good said. “That’s the only way you can stay at the top of this game, especially now where MMA, muay thai, wherever it is you go the caliber of the fighters are just getting better day by day so you can’t stay behind and be on the shelf for too long.”
Follow Stets @Darcesideradio