During the Bellator MMA 165 event last Saturday night (Nov. 19, 2016) inside SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion dropped a major bombshell, revealing that Fedor Emelianenko had inked a contract with the Viacom-owned company and would collide with former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) standout Matt Mitrione on Feb. 18, 2017.
In an interesting twist, Mitrione stated that he signed his bout agreement "blind," not knowing "The Last Emperor" would be the man standing in front of him come fight night. Since some may have dismissed that notion, "Meathead" appeared on "The MMA Hour" to confirm that he had no clue he was going to face Emelianenko until that night he shook his hand.
"They approached me and said, ‘We have an interesting concept for you.’ So I said, ‘Okay, what’s that?’ So they said, ‘We’re going to offer you a fight, we have an opponent in mind and we’re not going to tell you who, where or when. But, we think you’re down enough to do it,’" he explained. "So I asked if it was this month, because it was a bit ago, and they said, 'No.' So I said I was down as long as it was an opponent worth my time. I was thinking it was going to be Shane Carwin or "Rampage" [Jackson] or [Sergei] Kharitonov.
Needless to say, "Meathead" was pleased to find out his gamble paid off.
As for why Mitrione would take a gamble and sign a fight contract without a name attached to it, he simply stated he believes in his ability to beat anyone. As far as prior rumors that a fight between the two Heavyweight veterans was in the works, "Meathead" says he didn’t give it to much thought because Emelianenko is infamous for being skittish.
Still, Mitrione couldn’t hide the level of respect he has for the former Pride FC legend. That said, when the cage door locks behind him, Mitrione admits he will have no issue inflicting pain.
"I say this with as much respect as possible, I’m not even trying to sell the fight," he said. "I will have no problems trying to put my fists through Fedor’s face. None. That’s my job, that’s what I’m getting paid for, that’s why they brought us together. We are both exciting--ass fighters. Fedor’s a huge legend and a massive name and I’m in the process of trying to make myself a legend. I have no problems putting my hands on him, doing damage and trying to steal any kind of reputation he has and put it on my own."
As for what version of Emelianenko he believes will show up on fight night, Mitrione expects to see the best possible fighter even though the long-time great looked like a shell of his former self in his last outing against Fabio Maldonado.
Time will tell.