Matt Mitrione believes the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix is “the most exciting thing going on” in combined martial arts this yr — even when he initially needed no a part of it.
Bellator’s eight-man match will crown a brand new heavyweight champion by yr’s finish, however Mitrione admits he was “salty” when first approached with the thought.
That’s as a result of Mitrione (12-5) already had an inside observe on the title. He’s three-zero within the Bellator cage, together with a primary-spherical knockout over Fedor Emelianenko final June. Coming out of that battle, Mitrione believed he was one win away from turning into a champion. Now, he is three wins away.
“I was salty about it. I didn’t think it was legit,” Mitrione instructed ESPN’s Five Rounds podcast. “I earned that place. Especially with the best way I beat Fedor, I earned a title battle.
“I might have sat this out, however why miss a hell of an alternative? This is not a heavyweight match. It’s a superfight match. It’s probably the most thrilling factor happening in our sport — whether or not it is UFC or Bellator. This heavyweight match is probably the most thrilling factor.”
Fighting out of West Lafayette, Indiana, Mitrione faces Roy Nelson (23-14) at Bellator 194 on Friday, in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Friday’s matchup is the second leg of the match’s opening spherical. Chael Sonnen has already superior to the semifinals, defeating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson final month.
Mitrione would not go as far as to explain Nelson as his hardest potential matchup however stated Bellator actually did not give him a free move. Nelson, 41, holds a earlier win over Mitrione — a primary-spherical knockout in 2012.
“Fighting Roy is an IQ test, that is what it is,” Mitrione said. “If you stand in entrance of him and commerce off, you are more likely to fail the IQ test. If you battle him cellular and lengthy, the best way I battle usually, you are more likely to move that IQ test.
“It’s a test of where your mental state is when you’re fighting. If you can stay patient and calm, you’re likely to do well. If you decide to show how big your balls are, well then, you’re rolling the dice buddy.”
Mitrione is assured in how a lot he is improved since his first assembly with Nelson, which was simply his seventh skilled battle.
So assured, he views himself as probably the greatest heavyweights on the earth. In the present local weather of MMA, Mitrione admits that may be an inconceivable factor to show, since he cannot problem UFC champion Stipe Miocic, however is holding out hope the panorama might change earlier than the tip of his profession.
“I think it’s a shame to say there’s no way, there’s not a chance that can be figured out,” stated Mitrione, requested whether or not he might show he is the most effective of the world in Bellator. “The [Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act] looks to be gaining steam and has a chance to pass [to extend to MMA], and if it does, a Bellator champion and UFC champion would have a chance to fight each other. Then you’d actually have an opportunity to prove it, which I find fascinating and good for everybody.”