John Salter Plans to Take Claudio Annicchiarico into Deep Waters at Bellator 168

December 10, 2016

Coming off a year and a half layoff, middleweight veteran John Salter had no easy task ahead of him in his return fight this past June at Bellator 156 in former champion Brandon Halsey.

After a brief start to the fight where he was able to shake off any ring rust he, Salter was able to take control of the fight and finish Halsey with one minute left in the first round.

“It went pretty much the way I expected it to,” Salter told MMAWeekly.com. “I thought I would out-angle (Halsey), my footwork would be better, and I thought I would pick him apart with my hands a little bit.

“Kind of the first 30 seconds I was getting off balance, throwing punches without my feet under me, and then I relaxed. I just kept moving and sticking him with one or two-punch combos and getting out, and just taking my time, and he got desperate and I submitted him at the end.”

Though he had won three bouts in a row prior to his victory in June, Salter felt he needed to make some changes in his game, and thus used his time off to his advantage.

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“Before, I kind of always felt like I was that guy on my feet that I tried to stay in somebody’s face, grind it out, and almost box them like I was wrestling,” said Salter. “Now I try to be a lot more technical.

“My goal is to get hit as little as possible. I think one of the biggest things I’ve changed is not trying to hit people as hard as I can, just try to be accurate, fast and look for more quantity of punches.”

Salter (12-3) will look to close out 2016 in strong fashion when he travels to Florence, Italy, to take on MMA newcomer Claudio Annicchiarico (0-1) in a main card middleweight bout on Saturday.

“(Annicchiarico is) a very good kickboxer and is very dangerous, so the thing is I can’t stand right in front of him,” Salter said. “I can’t let him load up when wants to throw. I’ve got to keep my angles, keep him guessing, and never let him feel likes he’s settling on a target.

“I believe the further it goes, the deeper it goes into the fight the more it plays into my favor because I’ve been there a lot more times than he has. I’m used to that grind-out type of situation more than him.”

Having recently defeated a former Bellator title holder, and with possibly five wins in a row with a victory on December 10, Salter sees no reason why he can’t get a championship shot in 2017.

“By the end of next year, I want to be the Bellator champion at 185-pounds,” said Salter. “Anything can happen, but that’s my goal every day when I wake up; I’ve got to out-work everybody in the 185-pound division so I can be the champ.”

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