Bellator 225: Luckily, the rematch between the two will occur Saturday night at Bellator 225 on DAZN. The card will take place tonight inside the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The main card will air live at 9 p.m. ET on Paramount Network and DAZN. Peep the Bellator 225 weigh-in results here.
Lording over his meal, Matt Mitrione looks right at the camera and says, “I’m eating food right now. I’m having a good time, but catch me on Saturday, when I kick this Russian in his face. Not in his nuts this time. Cheers!”
That’s the explosive ending that Mitrione delivered in a Bellator MMA promotional video in anticipation of his rematch against Sergei Kharitonov in the main event of Bellator 225 (available live on DAZN) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday night.
A full, arduous training camp for that?
“It was a letdown,” Mitrione told Sporting News. “What happened was really just a shame – especially the reaction [Kharitonov] had was so intense. It was a letdown. It was an accident.”
There’s no doubt that Mitrione’s left leg kick hit Kharitonov below the belt, but when asked if he believes the Russian laid it on pretty thick with his reaction, the Springfield, Ill., native isn’t sure.
“I don’t know what that man’s testicles felt like, so I can’t say that,” Mitrione said. “Whatever it is, it is. If that’s what he says happened, that’s what happened. I can’t question him about what he felt.”
It almost doesn’t matter at this point, either, as Mitrione and Kharitonov will have a chance to do what they couldn’t before – actually fight. The stakes are high for Mitrione, considering what a win would mean for his future.
“It would just reaffirm that I’m arguably the second-best heavyweight in Bellator if you consider Ryan Bader the first,” Mitrione said. “I put myself in a position to enjoy the fruits of my labor and finally be a bride, not just a bridesmaid. Hopefully this Saturday goes the way I want it to go, the way I see it going, and from there, I take care of business elsewhere.”
Mitrione was coming off wins over Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Nelson when he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Bader in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal last October, a tournament that Bader went on to win.
The loss offered Mitrione (13-6, one no-contest) some valuable takeaways.
“It showed me that, for the first time in my life ever, I got nervous and I showed it,” he said. “I didn’t fight the way I should have. I didn’t respond the way I should have. I just let the moment get hold of me – something I’ve never done before. It shows that I’m still human.”
The 41-year-old was able to get past that loss and the disappointment of the no-contest against Kharitonov by throwing himself back into training and just being the “happiest fella I know on a daily basis,” as touted on his Instagram account.
His addiction to compete from well before his short-lived NFL career and through his MMA run with UFC and Bellator hasn’t wavered. He’s still in love with the process.
That same Bellator promo video also includes Mitrione saying, “I’m the same kind of idiot I’ve always been. I’m a knucklehead with a cool job.”
Mitrione believes that staying balanced has allowed him to deal with anything – inside or outside of the cage – even if that means almost cutting off his own thumb while preparing dinner this past June.
“I was slicing sweet potatoes,” Mitrione said. “A mandoline slicer popped my thumb right off. About a minute later, I looked on the floor, and there it was just looking at me on the floor. It’s almost back to normal.”
If you ask Mitirone, he’ll say he feels like he’s “still the same person” he’s always been, one who will be targeting a different result in his rematch against Kharitonov. A different result accompanied by an exclamation point – a knockout instead of a low-blow kick.
“I don’t know any other way – except for finishing fights with exclamation points,” Mitrione said. “It’s not something I do intentionally. It’s who I am and how I get down.”