Bellator 216: “MVP vs. Semtex” takes place TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 16, 2019) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., streaming exclusively online via DAZN. “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov” also takes place the night before in the exact same venue, making for one action-packed weekend of fights.
Michael “Venom” Page and Paul “Semtex” Daley collide in the Welterweight Grand Prix tournament, but Heavyweights shine at Bellator 216, too, as Cheick Kongo faces Vitaly Minakov in a rematch, while Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop also meet a second time
“Big Country” Nelson (23-16) has had a rough patch of late, losing three of his last four fights overall save for his Bellator MMA debut. There’s good news for Nelson, though — the last time he faced Mirko Filipovic he won via third round technical knockout. Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC), meanwhile, will be eager to avenge that loss, though, and unlike Nelson he’s had a career resurgence in his 40’s, having strung together nine straight wins in a row. The man famously behind “right kick hospital, left kick cemetery” will undoubtedly try to live up to that motto after waiting this long to have the fight.
Nelson recently spoke with MMAmania.com about another rematch of a famous UFC fight taking place in a Bellator cage to find out how he’s feeling about the bout.
“I’m excited. You know we were supposed to do this back in May, so, you know like, for me I’m just excited just to be able to fight (and) to be on the same stage as Cro Cop.”
The rematch was originally set for Bellator 200 in London, but Cro Cop pulled out due to injury several days before the fight. Does Nelson think Cro Cop is ready this time around?
“I’m assuming he is, because I think his doctors are great. You know, he fought after he had knee surgery, he had a camp (and) the whole nine yards and it was less than four months (after surgery) so he should be, like, phenomenal.”
Cro Cop would want nothing less considering he’s facing a man who finished him before.
“I think psychologically, I think with Cro Cop, I think Cro Cop hasn’t lost in three or four years or something like that. So I think he’s still riding that high. You know like when you’ve got that much momentum going forward, especially being the Rizin Grand Prix champion and stuff, I think as a fighter you always take all the pluses and keep on compounding, compounding. But eventually you know, it’s the Heavyweight division — you do lose!”
Nelson speaks from experience given he lost in the rematch with Matt Mitrione, who not coincidentally is headlining in the same venue 24 hours before Nelson faces Cro Cop.
“Actually you know I wanted actually that rematch (with Mitrione) before Cro Cop but um, you know, I’ll take what I can get.”
If both men win this weekend a trilogy fight could be in the works. Nelson certainly believes there’s a reason to do it after the results of their second fight, but that’s not the only recent result that he contests.
“I think with Matt (Mitrione) I was robbed, and then with Sergei I actually wasn’t knocked out, I was actually thrown to the floor. I don’t think the ref was really doing his job that night, because I could have just took a DQ and actually got the W, so technically I won that fight.”
Technically, no. To give Nelson the benefit of the doubt though I ran back the finish of the fight to see if referee Dan Miragliotta made any mistakes.
In the last ten seconds of the round two right hand uppercuts snap Nelson’s head back. A third wobbles Nelson and makes him lurch forward. A half second later Kharitonov throws a left knee as gravity is pulling Nelson down, and due to either the uppercut or the knee (or both) he face plants and Miragliotta stops it. For a microsecond Kharitonov’s hand grazes Nelson’s back as he’s falling but I wouldn’t call it being “thrown down” in any way.
Trying to resolve the conflict between the facts and Nelson’s perception of the fight led to this testy response regarding whether he’s got the opposite “momentum” of Cro Cop.
“I think what you mean is whatever YOU see as momentum, because my fans see me the other way, hence why I’m back at frickin’ Mohegan (Sun), you know, because that’s where fans want to see me, apparently.”
Let’s try to get this back on track. What does Nelson think of the quality of the opponents Cro Cop has faced during his four year win streak?
“(He beat King) Mo and then the one wrestler, I don’t know his name but he has a great wrestling pedigree, I think better than Brock Lesnar. I think the only person that probably has the same wrestling pedigree would be Daniel Cormier. As fighter ability I think he fought King Mo and that guy all in the same night which is definitely tough.
He’s either referring to Baruto Kaito (probably not — he’s a sumo) or Amir Aliakbari (a Greco-Roman wrestler banned for life for doping) but both fights were two nights after King Mo.
In closing Nelson has an interesting idea about what the result of this fight could mean.
“He’s on a four year win streak, and won the grand prix in Rizin, and the way I look at is once I beat him then I’ll be the Rizin champion plus on my way to the Bellator championship.”
Former champ Vitaly Minakov fights Cheick Kongo the same night, on a long win streak in his own right, so Nelson will need to really shine if he wants to move past them in line.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “MVP vs. Semtex” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.