Bellator returns with a bang-up card in one of their strongholds in Mohegan Sun with the second entrée in their year-long Heavyweight Grand Prix, with what is possibly the most important bout of the first round of the tournament up next.
This bout will pit former UFC stars Matt Mitrione (12-5, 3-0 Bellator) against Roy Nelson (23-14, 1-0 Bellator) in a rematch of their UFC fight five years ago, where Nelson knocked out Mitrione with a right uppercut/left hook combo in the first round. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, where Mitrione was very much still a fledgling fighter and Nelson was still at or near his peak. That being said, this strikes me as the more important fight of the first round, and the winner of this fight may very well be the favorite to win the rest of the tournament.
Mitrione is riding a three-fight winning streak, and his size, athleticism, and relative freshness in this tournament may make him the most dangerous guy in the tournament. But he could not have asked for a worst first round opponent in Nelson, who still has that eraser that could see him tear through this tournament. He also showed in his last fight against Javy Ayala in September that he still has plenty of ground skills. But I agree with what seems to be the consensus that Mitrione now has the skills to execute the blueprint to beat Nelson-move, kickbox, and for God’s sake don’t stand it front of him. That being said, you count out Big Country at your own peril.
The co-main event is another rematch as top lightweights Patricky Pitbull (18-8, 11-7 Bellator) and Derek Campos (19-6, 10-4 Bellator) battle in what is essentially an eliminator for the Bellator lightweight title. Pitbull knocked Campos out in the second round of their first bout in 2014. Both men come into this fight on hot streaks, as Campos has won four straight fights and Pitbull two big wins, against Josh Thompson and Benson Henderson. Both are strikers who love to fight so I’m expecting a barn burner.
Also, on this night, former boxing world champions Heather “The Heat Hardy (1-1, 1-1 Bellator) and Ana Julaton (2-3, 0-1 Bellator) will meet in the beginning of a two-fight series. They will lock up in the cage before fighting in the boxing ring later this year. And last but not least, former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary (12-2, 8-2 Bellator) tries to get back on the winning trail against Vadim Nemkov (8-2, 0-1 Bellator).
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