14 Feb - 
5 reasons to watch Bellator 215: Key heavyweight clash, guys looking to establish names

Bellator is in Uncasville, Conn., this weekend for two fight cards. The first, Bellator 215, takes place Friday night and features a headlining bout between heavyweight contenders Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov.

Mitrione is coming off the first loss of his Bellator tenure, a lopsided defeat to current two-division champion Ryan Bader. Meanwhile, Kharitonov enters the cage with first-round knockout wins in his two most recent fights with the promotion.

In the co-main event, unbeaten Logan Storley looks to continue his march toward his goal of becoming welterweight champion. Storley, a protege of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, faces Ion Pascu.

Bellator 215 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. Leaving the past behind

The last time we saw Mitrione in the cage, he was dominated by Bader in the semifinala of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix.

“I obviously got (expletive) up there, lost this one,” Mitrione said following the loss at Bellator 207. “I felt like in the middle of it I thought to myself, ‘It’s the perfect time for a Snickers commercial,’ because I wasn’t going anywhere for 15 minutes. That mother(expletive) just rode me like a pony, man. He’s a great wrestler; I’m not. He took advantage of it and did a great job.”

Mitrione (13-6 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who was a perfect 4-0 with Bellator before that lopsided (30-25, 30-24, 30-25) loss, looks to get back on the winning track when he faces Kharitonov (28-6 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) at Bellator 215.

Kharitonov had a rough welcome to Bellator. Javy Ayala knocked him out in 16 seconds at Bellator 163. Kharitonov bounced back from that setback with knockout wins over Chase Gormley and Roy Nelson in Bellator while also going 3-0 (with a no contest) in Russia and China.

With the way Mitrione, who is an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, got handled by Bader in their first meeting, it would be a surprise to see him earn a title shot with a win in this bout. If he hopes to get a second shot at Bader, the 40-year-old needs to make a statement here. As for Kharitonov, he’s also probably a few fights away from a title shot, but an impressive win over Mitrione could earn the 38-year-old some consideration depending on how the Bellator 216 battle between Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov turns out.