Adam McDonough received a phone call from Bellator recently regarding his upcoming 170-pound tournament bout. It was your classic case of, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” McDonough said. McDonough was set to take on UFC veteran Mark Scanlon of England in the opening round of the welterweight tournament at Bellator 112 on Friday night in Hammond, Ind. But Scanlon pulled out, and McDonough got a last-minute replacement in Jesse Juarez (27-8, 4-0 in Bellator). The last-minute change seriously altered McDonough’s game plan, and it washed away weeks of training done specifically for Scanlon. There was good news, though. McDonough’s fight has been promoted to the main card and will now be seen live on Spike TV on Friday night. Though Juarez offers a major change stylistically, McDonough (9-0, 1-0 in Bellator) still feels it’s a favorable matchup. We caught up with him while he was cutting weight this week, getting ready for the big Bellator tournament showdown.

MNMMANews.Com: Thank you for the time Adam. With the last-minute change, have you been able to learn much about Jesse Juarez?

MCDONOUGH: Yeah, he’s much different than Scanlon. Scanlon moves forward, pushes the pace a lot and has good cardio. He was always pushing, pushing, pushing. Now Juarez is way different. He’s longer. The length is the toughest issue for me, because I was not training for it. If I knew I was fighting a guy that long, I would have been rolling with Marcelo Nunes nonstop while preparing. But the good news is, I did a lot of my camp with (St. Cloud State national wrestling champion) Shamus O’Grady. This Juarez guy is gonna want to wrestle, and I’ve been rolling with a national champion three days a week for the last two months, so I feel very comfortable with my wrestling right now. I will need to do a better job of sitting on punches. I can’t get too aggressive against Juarez, because that’s what he wants. I was very aggressive with Johnny Buck in my Bellator debut, but I will be changing it up. Juarez is more of a grinder. He doesn’t have many KOs on his record. He grinds a lot of people down. But I don’t think he’ll be able to do that to me. The game plan is to put hands on his face, feel him out and grapple when he’s ready to grapple.

MNMMANews.Com: Is the opponent change frustrating or just part of the game?

MCDONOUGH: It’s unfortunate because I put a lot of time and energy into getting the right resources together, sparring with the right people who could emulate Scanlon. But I went back and game-planned with striking coach Chris Cichon. We watched a lot of video. My regular striking coach Nick Sieber and I watched a lot of video together, too. We game-planned from there.

MNMMANews.Com: What other differences do you see between Scanlon and Juarez?

MCDONOUGH: This guy wants to take me down. He’s long. He’s about as different as could be. Scanlon was short and strong and wanted to push the pace. This guy is a long wrestler. It’s a different style of wrestling, too. His jiu-jitsu is similar to our style. It’s wrestling based, heavy hips. I just want to put leather on him and make him make a mistake. That’s about it.

MNMMANews.Com: You’ve trained often at The Cellar for this fight, leaving your home base of Get Sum a few times per week. How much has that helped?

MCDONOUGH: Mean, I’ll tell ya, The Cellar is a real diamond in the rough. I hadn’t heard much about them, but we got hooked up through Carey Vanier who comes up and trains with us once in a while. They’ve got every kind of striker at The Cellar. You go from a kickboxer, to a karate guy, to an MMA guy, to a Muay Thai guy. there are so many different styles. I feel like I can spar with 10 different styles there in a single day. It’s awesome. Chris Cichon has been phenomenal for me. He uses angles well, and he has a lot of credibility built up. He’s a four-time national champion in kickboxing. He’s hands on and passionate about what he does. … Nick Sieber at Get Sum has done a lot for me, too. I think we have a nice little alliance now and it will open the doors for training and sending guys back and forth between the gyms.

MNMMANews.Com: How much better is your striking for this fight?

MCDONOUGH: It’s definitely better. It’s evolved quite a bit. I have learned to work angles much better. I think the more time I spend with Chris, the better I’ll get and the more comfortable I’ll feel on my feet. I have worked with Sergio Cunha in the past, so I’ve worked with a high-level striker. But it’s great getting all these different looks from different coaches. It only adds to my arsenal. It’s a great partnership with Chris. I even flew him out here for the fight.

MNMMANews.Com: The tournament format, if all goes well, could have you fighting three times in a very short period of time. Do you like that?

MCDONOUGH: Well, it is a fast turn-around. It will be nice because I would be done with the tournament in time for summer. It will be difficult fighting that often, but it would be a great problem to have because it means I’m still going in the tournament. the good thing is it keeps you in shape, keeps you focused and keeps you on weight.

MNMMANews.Com: Your coach, Brock Larson, is fighting for the ONE FC title the same day as your Bellator fight. When is the last time Brock hasn’t been in your corner and how difficult will that be?

MCDONOUGH: Man, it’s been a long time. Maybe four years? Honestly, I don’t even remember the last time Brock wasn’t in my corner. Brock just brings so many things to the table. We miss him dearly. The thing about MMA, and I think Tony Martin said it best in the interview with you guys, is that what’s best about fighting at the next level, the best experience on getting here is just the quality time you get to spend with your best friends. Basically from Tuesday to Friday, you’re just hanging with your best friends. They’re all happy while you’re miserable (cutting weight), but you still make it work. You’re just hanging out, playing cribbage. Dave Owens is here with me, Tony is here with me. It’s a good time. But nobody replaces Brock’s energy. It’s tough not having him here. Tony and Chris and Nick filled the void of training, and Shamus, too. But Brock brings a different comfort level, because he’s Brock. He’s a best friend, a coach, a trainer … he’s the best you could ask for. But we all wish him the best. He’s earned that title shot. I’m extremely happy for him. Nobody on earth deserves it more than him. … One thing I should mention is that Tony Martin has really, really stepped up with Brock gone. He’s basically been like a head coach for me. He’s done a phenomenal job. He’s taken it very seriously and he’s put a lot of time and travel in for my benefit. Tony turned down the chance to help get Robbie Lawler ready for his title fight, just to get me ready. He’s shown a lot of loyalty. On top of that, he’s one of my best friends, so it was awesome to fill that void with Tony.

MNMMANews.Com: Since this is your second time with Bellator, is it much easier? Are you feeling more comfortable?

MCDONOUGH: Yeah, I was just talking to Dave Owens about that. It’s kind of been there, done that now. I knew what to expect this week. Fighting for Bellator once and then going with Tony to his UFC fight, it’s just kind of business as usual now. That’s the way this one has felt. I feel like we know where we belong, we’re at home now. I don’t have any nerves yet. I’m sure as the week drags on, I’ll get some of those good nerves. But this whole thing is a dream come true. I’m about to fight on Spike in front of over a million viewers. I get to spend a week with my best friends. I have all my family coming down, the in-laws, my wife, I couldn’t ask for more right now. This time, I’m calm, I’m at ease, and I’m ready to do what I’m paid to do.

MNMMANews.Com: The opponent change is tough, but fighting on national TV has to be a thrill.

MCDONOUGH: Yeah, I was scheduled to be the featured fight on and now I’m on the main card. Heck, if you had asked me in the beginning if I could fight this guy on Spike or fight Scanlon on, I would have pick Juarez every time. I like my chances. I think this guy is very beatable. I will need to be on my game and fight well, but he’s beatable.

MNMMANews.Com: Finally, who would you like to thank?

MCDONOUGH: First, my wife. She’s my partner in crime. None of this is possible without her. We are a true team, from diet all the way through the preparation. Thanks to Tony Martin, Chris Cichon, Nick Sieber, Shamus O’Grady and all the guys and gals at Get Sum. Also everyone at The Cellar. I want to thank John and Jeff Swanson of Crossfit Fast Factory. Man, they’ve been great and they’ve really gotten me in shape for this fight. They’re good people. I want to thank all of my family, friends and fans for the support. All of my sponsors are great, too. I want to thank Envoy Mortgage, Kiser Construction, IRT Minnesota, Evolv MN, Hells Vapors, Currine, Schultz Company, R Riddles Jewelry and Element Arms. I should also thank all of my coworkers at CH Robinson. They’re a great support system. Finally, I must thank Brock Larson and Dave Owens. They do everything for me. I’m lucky to have them in my life.