EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 1, 2013

Still aiming high

Former Timberlane star Bradley puts past troubles behind, remains focused

Eric Bradley may be nicknamed “Sideshow,” but he wants to be the main event.

The former Timberlane wrestling star, who enjoyed a terrific All-American career at Penn State and was also a national boxing champion despite suffering two fractures of his back, continues to try climbing the mixed martial arts ladder.

An appearance last week on Spike TV in the Fightmaster Bellator series should definitely help his cause. He won a unanimous decision with an impressive combination of wrestling and boxing moves to advance to the 16-fighter Bellator tournament in which the winner will receive $100,000.

After winning his fight last week, during which he got raves as the best wrestler among the 32 contestants in the field, Bradley had to choose on TV one of four famous MMA coaches to train him for the rest of the tournament. He picked Greg Jackson of Jackson’s MMA and will train under him as long as he remains alive in the tournament

“I’m hoping this springboards me so I can get consistent fights and eventually get a (championship) belt,” said the 31-year-old Bradley, who trains out of Las Vegas. “Before signing with Fightmaster, I was 7-1 in the last year, but I had a hard time getting fights.

“I’ve always had to struggle to get fights — it’s been a pain. Some guys back out and something always seems to happen at the last minute.”

Although Bradley, whose nickname stems from his similar appearance to Sideshow Bob on the Simpsons, is starting to get along in years, he’s confident that — given the chance — he can be a champion again.

“I’m feeling pretty good and I think I’m in about as good shape as I’ve been,” said Bradley, who usually fights at 170 pounds. “I feel strong and I have the background in wrestling and boxing (to be successful). I feel great about my chances (in the tournament). I am a dark horse because I have been off the scene for awhile but I haven’t stopped training.”

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