Matt Mitrione (-160) vs. Fedor Emelianenko (+130)
As we’ve come to expect with Bellator, the next event pits two aging MMA veterans against each other. 38-year-old former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione (11-5) takes on 40-year-old MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko (36-4, 1 NC) on Saturday, February 18th for Bellator 172.
Matt Mitrione suffered a loss to UFC heavyweight Travis Browne early last year, and decided to make the switch to Bellator shortly after. There he faced the little-known Carl Seumanutafa and a 36-year-old Oli Thompson in the span of two months. He made easy work of both of them.
Mitrione’s UFC career shows a checkered record. He scored a win over internet hero Kimbo Slice and quickly knocked out Derrick Lewis, but he was also outclassed by Brendan Schaub and destroyed by Ben Rothwell.
Emelianenko is the perhaps the greatest MMA fighter to never fight in the UFC. For whatever reason, the Russian heavyweight and largest MMA promoter in the world never found a way to make things work. And now, with Emelianenko having signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator, it seems like that ship has sailed for good.
His sole fight of 2016 was against Fábio Maldonado, an aging fighter with a bunch of recent losses. It was a fight Emelianenko was expected to win. But Maldonado dropped the Russian multiple times in the first round and came close to finishing the fight on several occasions. Emelianenko recovered in the later rounds and went on to win by decision, though the verdict was extremely controversial and there were claims of bias from the all-Russian judges. But regardless of the decision, it was clear that Emelianenko is no longer the fighter he used to be.
It’s for that reason Emelianenko, one of the greatest fighters of all time, comes into Bellator 172 as the underdog. But in my opinion that may be overestimating Mitrione’s ability. Both fighters are well past their prime and Mitrione’s recent record hasn’t been too impressive either. In terms of technical ability, Emelianenko has Mitrione beat. He’s fought tougher fighters, enjoyed bigger wins, and has achieved much more in his career. Let’s not be so quick to rule out The Last Emperor.
Pick: Fedor Emelianenko (+130)
Photo credit: “Fedor Emelianenko_151231” by MIYAKO Tohdaiji, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.
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