One of MMA’s most revered legends could be making his Bellator MMA debut in early 2017.
Hours after he was spotted throwing down in a bad blood-fueled Twitter rant about cocaine and cash with Jon Jones, Bellator’s Matt Mitrione is reported to be facing all-time great PRIDE FC heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko in a Bellator cage early next year. Reported by FloCombat’s Duane Finley, the fight is supposedly close to being booked but is not official as of yet.
Emelianenko was last seen winning a highly controversial majority decision over Fabio Maldonado at June’s EFN 50 from his homeland of Russia, a bout where the presiding athletic commission fell under intense scrutiny for its reportedly biased nature towards Emelianenko in terms of the result. Fedor was floored early by a barrage of punches from Maldonado and was thought to be finished, but somehow rebounded to pour on some heavy offense of his own when the referee failed to stop the fight in the first round.
Before that, Fedor had returned to MMA in late 2015 under the Rizin banner, beating the lesser-known Jaideep Singh in a one-sided fight. Emelianenko’s return was promoted by Bellator in conjunction with Rizin head man and former PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, and will now reportedly make his way to fight in Bellator.
The news would obviously be game-changing for MMA’s second-best promotion, which has most certainly made waves in recent months by signing big former UFC names like Rory MacDonald and Benson Henderson. A bout featuring Emelianenko, a fighter whom the UFC attempted in vain to sign for years, would be a thunderous move for their prospects as serious competition to the UFC, even if he is well past his formerly dominant prime.
And it would come in the midst of a time when Bellator could already be making some moves to potentially surpass the UFC.
It’d also be by far the biggest bout of Mitrione’s career, as he put on a good number of exciting bouts in the Octagon but never really got over the hump to become a top contender. After being at odds with UFC management for years, the former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) competitor signed with Bellator earlier this year following a controversy-laden loss to Travis Browne, and has beaten Carl Seumanutafa and Oli Thompson by knockout in his only two Bellator bouts.
Those two fights clearly pale in comparison to a potential bout with Fedor, so Mitrione’s biggest fight could be coming soon. With Emelianenko still providing massive drawing potential as a legendary name, the same could be said for Bellator MMA as well.