11 Oct - 
Matt Mitrione: A Bader-Sonnen tourney final would discredit Bellator heavyweight division

NEW YORK – Matt Mitrione believes a potential Ryan Bader vs. Chael Sonnen final in the Bellator heavyweight grand prix tournament would be the worst outcome possible.

Mitrione (13-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), who meets Bader (25-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) in the first tournament on Friday at Bellator 207, thinks he should already be the Bellator heavyweight champion. He sees the upside of the organization putting on an eight-man tournament to determine who claims the vacant belt, but not if it’s Bader and Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) who fight for it.

Mitrione said it needs to be a real heavyweight who has the strap, so he must ensure he wins his fight. He can’t control what happens the following night, though, when Sonnen meets Fedor Emelianenko (37-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in the second semifinal pairing.

“If Bader beats me and if Chael beats Fedor, you just completely discredited your heavyweight division – completely,” Mitrione told MMAjunkie at today’s Bellator 208 open workouts. “I’m the best heavyweight they have, I think that’s pretty firmly established. Fedor’s the greatest heavyweight of all time, so if we lose, then what the hell do we do?

“What happens if we have a heavyweight champ that’s kind of like Ben Askren that’s a blanket? Is that what we’re looking for the in the heavyweight division? Most likely not. That’s why people like heavyweight, because we throw leather and people get slept. That’s why we’re a completely different animal than everyone else. I don’t know. It could produce a large amount of issues. But then again, it’s my job to not let that (expletive) happen. So hopefully I don’t have to answer those questions.”

Bellator 207 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Mitrione vs. Bader headlines the Paramount-televised main card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Mitrione, 40, could have a difficult task ahead of him in that Bader, 35, holds a skillset that has caused problems for Mitrione in the past. Mitrione put him through the “worst camp” of his career to prepare for the wrestling attack of his opponent, though, and that has fueled him with more confidence as fight night approaches.

Although the fighter who possesses superior grappling is traditionally able to control where the fight takes place, Mitrione said he’s not worried about that in this particular matchup.

“It doesn’t come down to wrestling and I found that out,” Mitrione said. “It doesn’t come down to wrestling. It comes down to what I do really well, and that’s pressure and throw hands and mobility. That’s what it comes down too.”

Mitrione may not want to see Sonnen come out of the other side of the bracket and win the tournament, but he does thinks a matchup against the former multi-time UFC title challenger would have a strong build. He wouldn’t mind a rematch with Emelianenko – who he knocked out in 74 seconds at Bellator NYC in June 2017 – but he has some tricks up his sleeve for Sonnen if it goes the other way.

“Chael and I would get really weird on pushing a fight, for certain,” Mitrione said. “We’re friends so he and I know, ‘Look man, things are going to come out and get really weird.’ I’m going to make up as much stuff about him as I can and put it on Wikipedia. For certain. I’m going to get arrested for cyber-bulling no question about it, against Chael. If it’s Fedor, his track record and life accomplishments show that he deserves a rematch.”

For more on Bellator 207, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.