Matt Mitrione has a vision of how he would like the Bellator heavyweight grand prix to unfold.
“The Ultimate Fighter 10” veteran will square off against light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader in one semifinal, while Fedor Emelianenko will lock horns with Chael Sonnen in the other half of the bracket. A rematch in hostile territory would be Mitrione’s ideal scenario for the final round.
“After I beat Bader, if Fedor is lucky enough to get by Chael, I want to fight Fedor in Moscow,” Mitrione said during a Facebook Live chat. “I want to fight him. I want to put hands on him. On Christmas, like ‘Rocky.’ Let’s duplicate this s--t.”
Mitrione and Emelianenko initially fought Bellator 180 last June. Following a rare double knockdown in the bout’s opening moments, Mitrione was able to beat “The Last Emperor” to his feet, sprawl on a takedown and finish his opponent with a flurry of punches at the 1:14 mark of round one.
For now, though, “Meathead” has more pressing matters to handle in Bader, who is coming off a 15-second knockout of Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 199. Of course, Mitrione expects things to play out far differently when he squares off with the Power MMA Team product.
“I think he was fearless with ‘Mo.’ Had no concerns. I think he came in with a different posture, a different type of aggression,” Mitrione said. “With me, he won’t be able to do that. He knows that. I’m highly mobile, and I’ve got a completely different conversation of power than anybody he’s ever fought, especially with small gloves on. I expect him to come out aggressive and try to get on my hips, that’s for certain. I think he’ll do his best to get me pregnant with his hand traps and wrestling traps and everything else. But I don’t see that happening.
Mitrione is well aware of Bader’s strengths, but he expects his size and power to cause more problems for “Darth” than his previous opponent.
“I know that he’s a damn good wrestler. I understand who he is,” Mitrione said. “I’m not taking this fight as a wrestling match. I’m taking this fight as: I throw hands, and if you get me to the ground good for you. But I’m going to punch you square in the face, Ryan Bader, and I’m going to kick your mouth. You can’t block them all, and all I need is one. We’ll see how that goes.”