Weekend Warrior: Mitrione-Kharitonov Boosts Bellator 225

Nothing went according to plan the first time Matt Mitrione faced Sergei Kharitonov. The result was an unmitigated disaster for Bellator MMA, as a wayward kick from Mitrione struck the Russian below the belt and led to a no-contest that ruined their Bellator 215 main event. Now comes the do-over.

Mitrione will confront Kharitonov in the Bellator 225 headliner on Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with the winner perhaps emerging as a suitor for current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. Meanwhile, heavyweights occupy the co-main event slot as well, as former titleholder Vitaly Minakov tackles Javy Ayala and attempts to rebound from the first professional defeat of his 22-fight career.

Cover Photo: Esther Lin/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

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Matt Mitrione

Matt Mitrione. Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty Images)

A quarterfinalist on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, Mitrione played college football at Purdue University before brief stints in the NFL with the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and San Francisco 49ers. The 41-year-old has compiled a 4-1 record with one no-contest since he left the Ultimate Fighting Championship to join the Bellator roster in 2016. Wins over Fedor Emelianenko, Roy Nelson, Derrick Lewis, Gabriel Gonzaga and Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson anchor the Mitrione resume.

Kharitonov, 38, rose to prominence in Pride Fighting Championships, where he was a semifinalist in the 2004 heavyweight grand prix and procured victories over Murilo Rua, Semmy Schilt, Pedro Rizzo, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem. The Golden Glory representative has not tasted defeat in nearly three years, having gone 5-0 with two no-contests across his last seven appearances. Always a destructive offensive fighter, Kharitonov has secured 26 of his 28 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, a staggering 23 of them inside one round.

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Sergei Kharitonov

Sergei Kharitonov. Photo: Valery SharifulinTASS (Getty Images)

Bellator 225 “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2”—which airs live on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT—also features a women’s flyweight tilt pairing Alejandra Lara with Taylor Turner, a heavyweight battle pitting Tyrell Fortune against Rudy Schaffroth and a welterweight affair matching David Rickels with Yaroslav Amosov. The 11-fight undercard will stream to Bellator.com.

While it may be the unquestioned centerpiece of a UFC-free weekend, Bellator does not have the MMA market cornered. The Titan Fighting Championship organization on Friday will return to Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with two title fights atop Titan 56. Martin Brown puts his lightweight championship on the line against Beibit Nazarov in the headliner, while the undefeated Jason Soares risks his featherweight crown opposite Andrew Whitney in the co-main event. Titan 56 streams live to UFC Fight Pass at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

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