ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
Senior Staff Writer // Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @PhotoAmy33
Amy Kaplan

Joe Schilling is arguably one of the best middleweight kickboxers in the world. So when he said he was leaving kickboxing last year to focus on his not-so-great MMA career, kickboxing fans were pretty pissed.

But flash forward to now, as spoke with Schilling about that decision.

"There's some interesting match ups for me in MMA," he said. "But I don't intend to put on the wrestling shoes and a jiu-jitsu gi and grind out getting better at MMA. At least for another year."

This decision seems to have been made in the wake of the announcement of Bellator Kickboxing, of which Schilling is a part.

It seems like a perfect fit, as he can easily swap between kickboxing and MMA while staying with the same promotion.

"It only makes sense [Bellator] use me for kickboxing," he said. "I'm one of the best kickboxers in the world and I am just eh at MMA."

He says that he only started doing MMA with Bellator because that was the only option they had at the time. Now that they have introduced Bellator Kickboxing he can focus back on what he's great at.

"It's a great opportunity for me," he said. "I want to help grow the Bellator Kickboxing brand."

Schilling is set to face someone he remembers well... Hisaki Kato.

Kato famously knocked Schilling out via Superman punch at Bellator 139. That punch dropped Schilling out cold and has been called one of the top knockouts of the year. I saw it and it was pretty painful to watch.

He's anxious to avenge that loss, this time outside the cage, and in a ring.

The pair will meet for a rematch. This time it will be a kickboxing bout, not MMA, at Bellator Kickboxing 2 on June 24.

"I saw him coming at me," Schilling recalled. "The first two steps of the Superman punch I thought he was shooting to take me down. I dropped my hands to counter the takedown and I got punched in the face."

He says this time around Kato will be playing by his rules.

"I don't have to worry about him taking me down this time," he laughed. "It's going to be a very comfortable scenario for me to be in."

He was hesitant to give too much of his game plan, but he did give me a prediction for how he sees the fight ending.

"It's going to be a one-sided fight," he said. "I'm going to end it in the first round."


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