Bellator 225: “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2” airs this weekend (Sat., Aug. 24, 2019) from Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After a disappointing outcome when these same two Bellator Heavyweights headlined in Uncasville earlier this year, they now have a second chance to make things right on Saturday night.
Let’s break it down!
265 lbs.: Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC)
If you saw the first clash of these titans, you didn’t actually see very much. In fact, the fight went so poorly that both Mitrione and Scott Coker apologized for just how badly it went. Here’s what happened — both men came forward, Mitrione threw a left leg kick that drifted straight into Kharitonov’s groin, referee Leon Roberts called time, Kharitonov could not continue. That unfortunate sequence of events resulted in a 15-second “no contest” in the main event of a Bellator MMA card.
So it’s no surprise that apologies were offered.
Hopefully, the only thing that changes this time is the outcome. Otherwise, “everything is virtually identical” in the tale of the tape. Mitrione is 40 years old, stands 6’3,” and has a 79-inch reach. Kharitonov is 38 years old, 6’4” and has a 76-inch reach. I called for a Mitrione knockout the first time, and since he was uninjured in that bout and had six more months to train, what could possibly change? Even though he’s the older fighter I believe that Kharitonov is more “war weary” from having had more fights with many of the top 265-pound athletes in the world. Mitrione doesn’t have a legendary chin, but if he lands first he won’t need it.
Final prediction: Matt Mitrione via knockout
125 lbs.: Alejandra Lara (7-3) vs. Taylor Turner (4-5)
There have been a few fights that were more lopsided than this one on a main Bellator card ... but only a few. Even though Alejandra Lara is on a two-fight losing streak, the first loss was a world title match against the undefeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and the second was a split decision against another undefeated fighter in Juliana Velasquez. It’s hard to knock her given the quality of that competition, and it’s hard to pick against her when Taylor Turner is not that caliber. Turner did impress against Heather Hardy, but that speaks more to how inadequate Hardy has been transitioning from boxing to mixed martial arts (MMA). She was brought in to be fed to Hardy and ended up making a meal of her instead. Lara will do the same to her.
Final prediction: Alejandra Lara via second round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Vitaly Minakov (21-1) vs. Javy Ayala (11-7)
On a card loaded with Heavyweights, this is an intriguing and perhaps underrated bout featuring two men at a career crossroads. Former Bellator champion Vitaly Minakov was expected to make a big return in 2019, but Cheick Kongo extended his win streak to eight and handed “The New Emperor” his first professional loss. In the process, Kongo earned a title shot against Ryan Bader, so as we await the results of that fight Minakov has a chance to earn his way back into the title picture with a few quality wins.
“Eye Candy” Javy Ayala is not the man to just roll over for Minakov, though. Though he can be a streaky fighter who trades back-to-back wins for the same amount of losses, he holds significant knockout victories over two of MMA’s biggest names at Heavyweight — Sergei Kharitonov and Frank Mir. Standing 6’1” with a 76-inch reach, he gives up very little in size to Minakov at 6’2” with a 78-inch reach. While both men are proven finishers with career wins over big names, the overall records of both men tell the real story. There’s no shame in Minakov losing a decision to Kongo at arguably the peak of Kongo’s career, while Ayala has two losses to journeyman fighter Carl Seumanutafa. If Ayala’s record was 17-1 instead of 11-7 you could have more faith in him pulling off the upset.
Final prediction: Vitaly Minakov via second round knockout
175 lbs.: David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (21-0)
Unfortunately for popular Bellator fighter “The Caveman” David Rickels this is a set up fight in every sense of the word. “Dynamo” Yaroslav Amosov is so good he should have been in the Welterweight Grand Prix, but instead wound up on the outside looking in with a win over Erick Silva in his second promotional fight. Amosov has finished 81 percent of his fights to date (eight knockouts, nine submissions) so there’s really no aspect of his game that doesn’t seem formidable. Rickels has never been submitted and has only lost one decision, but he has been finished with strikes four times. That doesn’t bode well for a “fuck it let’s bang, bro”-style fighter who wants to stand in the pocket and make it exciting for the fans. The very thing that makes him a crowd favorite is going to be his undoing here.
Final prediction: Yaroslav Amosov wins via first round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Tyrell Fortune (6-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC)
If three Heavyweight tilts weren’t enough to whet your appetite in the wake of Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, how about a fourth? While neither Tyrell Fortune nor Rudy Schaffroth has fought the top-level competition that would earn them a shot at Bader (or potentially Kongo) their stocks have risen to the point of being a featured fight on this beefy card. As the old adage says, “Someone’s ‘O’ has got to go.” My money is on Fortune to win because he was brought in as a blue chip wrestler and has proceeded to win 67 percent of his fights (four of six) by technical knockout, showing he made a very successful transition to the striking game. Don’t sleep on the Team Quest-trained fighter Schaffroth though, whose finishing rate is even higher at 83 percent (five of six). As they say in the betting parlance, he’s a “live dog” in this fight.
Final prediction: Tyrell Fortune via unanimous decision
That’s a wrap!
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