Bellator supremo, Scott Coker, deserves a lot of credit for the approach he has taken to injecting some life into the Bellator Heavyweight division. UFC229 may have gotten the UFC back into the mainstream spotlight once again, but there is no doubt that Bellator has been making significant progress in the last 12 months, eating into the heretofore monopoly the UFC has been enjoying for the past 15-20 years.
Essentially he has contracted 8 fighters and created a knockout tournament for the championship title. Unfortunately he is relying heavily on fading and aging stars to promote the Bellator Heavyweight product. The youngest of the 4 remaining contestants is 30 years of age.
This weekend see’s two events taking place over consecutive nights. Essentially the main events of both Oct 12th Bellator 207 and Oct 13th Bellator 208 are semi finals in the Heavyweight competition to see who will face off for the Heavyweight championship belt.
First up are Ryan Bader and Matt Mitrione at Bellator 207. Bader burst onto the professional mixed martial arts scene after winning season 8 of the UFC Ultimate fighter competition and thus began a fairly successful career in the UFC Light Heavyweight division. A defeat to Anthony Johnson in 2016 put a stall on his progress in the UFC and although he won 2 subsequent bouts he became embroiled in a cat and mouse game with the UFC over a new contract. The UFC decided not to match what Bellator had agreed to pay Bader and thus began his Bellator career.
Bader has quickly established himself as the Bellator Light heavyweight champ and to date has one defence of that title. Heavyweight is quite a step up for the 6’2″ Bader and I will be very interested to see how he gets on against his Semi-Final opponent Matt Mitrione.
For the casual fan who may not be all that familiar with the Bellator promotion and a couple of their fighters I have provided links below to each of the four fighters fight history and career record. I find that Sherdog provide the most effective information in this regard.
For a full look at Ryan Bader’s fight career click here
Mitrione is a natural Heavyweight and is yet another graduate of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter series. Similiar to Bader he has had a fairly long UFC career without ever threatening the very top ranks of the UFC Heavyweight division. Mitrione does possess a Knockout of Derrick Lewis on his CV so you can take it as given that there is plenty of of natural power coming from his corner. At 30 years of age Mitrione is the youngest of the 4 heavyweights left in the competition.
Mitrione’s career and fights stats can be viewed here
Bellator 208 on October 13th is undoubtedly a far easier sell from Scott Coker’s perspective. Chael Sonnen and Fedor Emelianenko are two pioneers of professional mixed martial arts. Both are extremely well known to most US MMA fans.
Fedor is widely regarded as one of the best all round MMA Heavyweights to ever grace the professional ranks. He mixes Olympic level Judo skills with genuine knockout power. He has at various times fought for the Pride and Strikeforce franchises. For some bizarre reason he and Dana White have never been able to agree a deal to bring him to a UFC audience. The UFC’s loss I say.
However at 42 years of age the Russian’s best years are a long, long way in the rear-view mirror.
Fedor is one guy whose career record you should familiarize yourselves with – Just for the sheer breath and longevity of it. Click here for a quick look.
Chael Sonnen needs no introduction to even the most casual of MMA fans. Before Conor McGregor there was Chael. He held most of the UFC’s Pay per view and gate records before the likes of Ronda and McGregor came on the scene and destroyed them.
Sonnen is probably the single biggest reason there is so much light on this Heavyweight series. Like Fedor he is the wrong side of 40 and nowadays he is probably more familiar for his media work and runs a very successful podcast. Chael is an incredibly articulate guy and a former NCAA All-American wrestler. His podcast Your Welcome! – with Chael Sonnen is well worth a listen.
Funnily enough for a guy that has been involved in some of the biggest UFC fights he has never successful won a UFC world championship belt at either middleweight or Light Heavyweight. His most recent loss at UFC championship belt level, was to the infamous Jon Jones for the Light heavyweight title.
You can familiarise yourself with Chael’s full fight record here on Sherdog.