Bellator 218's Johnny Eblen Is Not Your Average Wrestler


Another Bellator MMA event, another blue-chip wrestling prospect ready to show the world he can fight.

Friday night, University of Missouri wrestling product Johnny Eblen (4-0) makes his promotional debut when he takes on Chauncey Foxworth at Bellator 218 in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

During his time wrestling in college, Eblen never viewed fighting as a goal. Once his collegiate career came to an end, Eblen looked to enter the "real world" by getting a blue-collar job.

"It just kind of presented itself," Eblen told FloCombat. "I was always interested in fighting, but I didn't really know how to go about it. After my wrestling career, I was just focusing on my next career. I didn't know exactly what it was going to be. I ended up going to South Florida for a paving job. I was doing estimating."

While in Florida, Eblen would enter the realm of MMA through a human portal—renowned American Top Team wrestling coach Steve Mocco.

"When I was down there, I met up with Steve Mocco because we both coached high school wrestling down here," Eblen said. "I coached at American Heritage Delray, and he has a little camp at American Top Team—Mocco Wrestling.

"I ran into him one day when we were both coaching the same kid. We ended up wrestling, and he was like, 'Hey man, you're a great kid. You're pretty damn good and should come to the gym.' So, basically, he got me coming in the gym, and eventually, I quit my job and started fighting."

Johnny Eblen vs. Wayman Carter | SFC 308

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Following a three-fight amateur career, Eblen turned professional. The 185-pounder wrecked house at top Midwest regional promotion Shamrock FC, ending all four of his pro bouts in the first round.

The brief, dominant scraps caught the eyes of the Bellator MMA brass, who promptly offered Eblen a contract.

"I felt like it was a good choice," Eblen said. "They do like to find wrestlers. They give them decent fights to work them up. They're not just throwing them to the wolves [or] whatever. I just thought it was a good promotion to sign with—I like the way they do business."

Focused on his promotional debut, Eblen calls Foxworth his "toughest test to date." With that, Eblen believes he'll pass with flying colors.

"I think I have more tools in my tool belt, and that's going to be present in the fight," Eblen said. "I think you're going to see a finish."

Johnny Eblen vs. Tyler Lee | SFC 310 Replay

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Take your stereotypical vision of a wrestler inexperienced in mixed martial arts, and throw it out the window. Eblen comes to finish fights.

"I go in there to finish the fight as quickly as possible," Eblen said "You don't get paid by the minute, you get paid to show up and win. I show up and I'm trying to get out of the f*cking cage as quickly as possible.

"Obviously yeah, fans like finishes and promotions like finishes, so it works out well for everybody if I just go in there and finish the guy."

The 28-year-old middleweight says didn't climb aboard the Bellator MMA bandwagon to mess around. No surprise: He's going for gold.

"I signed with this promotion to become a world champion for Bellator," Eblen said. "Whether it's the end of this year, next year, whatever. I'm more just concentrating on each fight and each day of training camp. I just take it day-by-day and fight-by-fight. Wherever I go, I go."

Alan Jouban Talks Retirement & Legacy Fights

Alan Jouban

April 13th, 2019 - that was the last time we saw Alan Jouban step into the famed octagon. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast (Episode 248)

Top Turtle MMA Podcast

The UFC is back on pay-per-view this weekend, but Top Turtle is bringing you the goods for free. 

Q&A: How The Effects Of Shutdown Brought Tom DeBlass Out of Retirement


Tom DeBlass last competed in grappling in August of 2019 with a submission win in Atlantic City. The ADCC vet is known as one of the most influential figures in the grappling community and he makes his return to action in a title match at Fight to Win 157 on Nov 14. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

DeBlass Breaks Retirement To Challenge For Masters Title At F2W 157


Fight to Win is back in Philadelphia this weekend for Fight To Win 157. In this edition, Tom DeBlass will step out of retirement to challenge for the no-gi masters belt against a masters wrecking ball, Chad "Kodiak" Fields. In the co-main event, Gabriel Almeida will take on Vagner Rocha.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Top Turtle MMA Podcast (Episode 247)

Top Turtle MMA Podcast

Well, Paul Felder stepped up, so we figured we’d better step up too. Top Turtle is back at it again this week with all the good stuff. 

Khaos Williams: Lockdown Led to TMT & Jackson-Wink

Khaos Williams

The story has been told time and time again of the fighter who had things lined up, who was ready to cash in on that opportunity, to turn a corner - but the COVID lockdown and gyms closing got in the way. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast (Episode 246)

Top Turtle MMA Podcast

After an emotion last week that saw the end (maybe?) of one of the greatest career’s we’ve ever seen, we try to move on with our lives. Luckily, there’s always another UFC event right around the corner. 

How Max Griffin Got His Groove Back

Max Griffin

A career as a professional fighter is not all glitz and glamour (if it is at all), but it’s especially hard when close decisions aren’t going your way. 

Most Exciting Teams Coming To Subversiv 4


Usually a once-annual show, Subversiv is back for the second time in 2020, and this time, it’s on the East Coast.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Top Turtle MMA Podcast (Episode 245)

Top Turtle MMA Podcast

Well, our second go round on Fight Island has come to a close, but the UFC machine just keeps on running. So why not lean on the guys from Top Turtle to keep you going too.