With terrifying wrestling and an unrelenting will to win, Johnny Eblen has risen to the top of a stacked Bellator middleweight division, but there’s much more to the American than meets the eye.
From getting into trouble at school to learning the violin, the talented athlete had an incredible journey to the pinnacle of the sport.
And on Saturday night, he’ll aim to complete the next chapter of his impressive career when he travels to Dublin, Ireland, to tango with Fabian Edwards in front of a packed crowd at the 3 Arena.
Johnny Eblen wants to punish Fabian Edwards at Bellator 299
With Irish blood flowing through his veins, the 31-year-old is ready to make a statement against a man who’s become quite the rival.
When the pair first squared off in the cage following Edwards’ victory over Gegard Mousasi, tensions boiled over with Eblen shoving his opponent in a bid to assert dominance.
And it’s fair to say that the Iowa native is determined to do a real number on his nemesis when the pair finally meet in the cage.
Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he said: “I really can’t wait to go in there and f*****g punch this guy in the face. I’m not a huge fan. I don’t particularly like him. That’s not to say I hate the guy. He’s just another person that’s trying to take my belt. It’s all good. But once we’re in that cage, it gets a little bit personal, I try to literally beat your face, and he’s just another guy in my way.
“He gives me that type of energy. I can feel it from him. With other guys that I’ve fought, I take it a little bit personally that they think they could beat me, and we’re about to get into a fistfight, so I gotta get into a certain type of headspace, because I can’t just beat up a random person, but this is different.
“I have to put him in this light where it allows me to f*****g put hands on him. He seems to be more inviting of that energy. It’s something about him and the way he holds himself. But I want to punch him a little bit more than other people I’ve fought.
Johnny Eblen compares Fabian Edwards to his brother Leon
On August 20, 2022, in the dying seconds of his bout with Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards landed a head kick that changed his life forever. In what some describe as the greatest comeback of all time, ‘Rocky’ shocked the world and picked up the UFC title in the process.
And tomorrow evening, his beloved brother Fabian will look to carve out his own piece of history for his family and those who look up to him.
Speaking at the media day, he said: “When you come back from the area, you want to give back to the community and the kids, as well as your family. I’m happy to be in a position to give back, and when I go out there and win on Saturday, I hope it will inspire more people. Coming from Jamaica, where the house is smaller than this room and coming to England with my dad passing and the struggles we have but it’s built us into the men we are today.
However, Eblen isn’t interested in becoming part of anyone else’s legacy.
He asserted: “Fabian and his brother are pretty similar. I would say his brother’s a bit more seasoned. They’re very, very, very similar. There’s some pressure on him, for sure. There’s pressure on me too. There are people saying I’m the best middleweight in the world too. I think I’m the best middleweight in the world. There are dreams and achievements I want to accomplish. And if I lose my belt on September 23, it’s going to crush a lot of things that I have going for me.
“I’m here to crush his dreams. But the most important thing for me is solidifying my name as one of the best in the world, and I’m trying to collect belts in different weight classes, different promotions. I’m just gonna continue to win. He’s nothing more than another foe in my way.
Johnny Eblen is more than just a fighter
While ‘The Human Cheat Code’ is renowned for his ability in the cage, his talents extend far beyond punching people in the face.
As it turns out, Eblen spent years honing his skills in other sports and as a musician.
He explained: “Yeah, dude, I’ve been competing since I was four. I was a very young kid in sports. My whole life literally revolves around it. It was mostly wrestling that really got me because it’s just you and another person. But I used to play all sports; I played baseball, I played soccer, I played American football. You name it, I did it. My mom even made me play violin and piano for a little bit. I’m half Korean. So I have this Asian side of me.
He continued: “I was always getting into trouble. I had a lot of energy. My parents thought putting me in an activity that would get that energy out would be a good idea. So football and wrestling is what I gravitated to, and I ended up sticking to them throughout high school. So, from a little kid from age four all the way through 12th grade, I wrestled and played football.”
Johnny Eblen had a crazy road to becoming Bellator champion
With remarkable athleticism, Eblen always had the potential to achieve great things, but without running into Steve Mocco, he may never have reached the heights he has today.
Eblen concluded: “I went to college for wrestling and then got a degree. I ended up going down to South Florida for no fight-related reason, just to wrestle. I was in the wrestling community down in South Florida and ran into Steve Mocco. He’s my wrestling coach now, and he got me into American Top Team. And I ended up grappling with some guys, and I was doing pretty well. I started hitting mitts with Mike Brown after practises. I was working and training at the same time. I ended up quitting my job, and I started fighting. And next thing you know, I’m a world champion and one of the best in the world.”
With remarkable ambitions, the story of Johnny Eblen is a long way from done, which is why it’s more than worth tuning in to watch him fight. And you never know, if he wins, he might whip out his violin and hit the Dublin crowd with a song.
Featured Image Credit: Bellator