Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov will fight for a second time as the two heavyweights will collide at the main event of Bellator 225 on August 24, 2019, at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Mitrione and Kharitonov fought at Bellator 215 but the bout lasted only 15 seconds after Mitrione landed an errant kick between Kharitonov’s legs. The latter was unable to continue to fight and the fight was called off, leaving fans and both fighters disappointed. Shortly after, a rematch was set and these men get another 15 minutes to decide the winner.
Matt Mitrione vs Sergei Kharitonov
Matt Mitrione is a former NFL football player who also fought for the UFC promotion before coming over to the Bellator promotion. Mitrione played for the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings before injuries cut his football career short. He transitioned to MMA and appeared in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights tournament. He fought seven years for the UFC before signing with Bellator in 2017. Mitrione enters this bout as MMA betting favorite against Kharitonov.
Mitrione won his first four bouts at Bellator before losing to Ryan Bader in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals at Bellator 207. He returned to fight Kharitonov last February but that bout ended in a no-contest after Mitrione landed an accidental groin strike to his opponent. Meatball stands 6-3 with a reach of 79 inches while fighting as an orthodox fighter. He has a record of 13-6-0-1 with 11 knockouts.
Odds were taken from Betonline.ag as of 8/05/19
Sergei Kharitonov is one of the more decorated MMA fighters in Bellator right now. The Russian native has competed for M-1 Global, GLORY, PRIDE and Strikeforce prior to coming to Bellator. He owns notable wins over former EliteXC Middleweight Champion Murilo Rua, former K-1 Champion Semmy Schilt, former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, and former UFC Heavyweight Champions Andrei Arlovski and Fabrício Werdum.
The 38-year-old Kharitonov has an MMA record of 28-6-0-2 with 16 knockouts and 10 wins by submission. He stands 6-4 with a reach of 76 inches while fighting as an orthodox fighter. He won his Bellator debut at Bellator 207 when he knocked out former UFC heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson. He is 5-1 with two no-contests in his last eight bouts. Four of those wins were by stoppage.
When Ryan Bader defeated Matt Mitrione, he used his superior wrestling skills to repeatedly take Mitrione down and pound him on the mat. Bader took little damage while dominating the fight from top position. It wasn’t the kind of heavyweight fight that fans pay to see but it was a brilliant game plan by Bader to beat a striker like Mitrione. If Kharitonov does the same, he will surely get the win but the problem is that he is unlikely to replicate that performance.
That’s because 57% of Kharitonov’s win is by knockout. He was even able to finish the tough as nails Roy Nelson in his last Bellator bout. So in this fight, I expect to see fireworks right from the opening bell. But while that would make an exciting fight, Kharitonov would be putting himself at risk of being stopped by Matt Mitrione who has real knockout power.
84% of Mitrione’s wins are by knockout as well so these are two fighters who like to look for the finish early. Age and size-wise, both are nearly identical as well Mitrione is slightly older but he has a longer reach. But when you have two brawlers like these, those aren’t really factors and the fighter who lands harder win the fight. I’m going with Matt Mitrione here bot because he is the harder puncher but because Khartinov’s chin has shown more cracks that Meathead’s. I think Mitrione wins by knockout. Prediction: Matt Mitrione
Valentin Moldavsky vs Timothy Johnson
Valentin Moldavsky is one of the promotion’s up and coming heavyweights, going 3-0 under Bellator so far. Moldavsky won the Combat Sambo World championship last year and went 2-1 in the Rizin Openweight Grand Prix of 2016 where he lost to the eventual second placer Amir Aliakbari via split decision.
Moldavsky has a record of 8-1 overall with one knockout and three submission wins. He is coming off a win over former light heavyweight challenger Linton Vassell last March 22, 2019. Prior to that, he fought only once in 2017 and once in 2018, winning both fights. He stands 6-1 and weighs at 233 pounds.
Odds were taken from Betonline.ag as of 8/06/19
Former UFC fighter Timothy Johnson earned enough stripes in Dana White’s promotion to earn a slot in the Bellator roster. But his promotional debut with Scott Coker’s group went downhill after he suffered a first-round knockout loss to contender Cheick Kongo last October.
Johnson was 4-3 in the UFC octagon, including wins over Marcin Tybura and Shamil Abdurakhimov. He has a huge frame and a pressure-style that overwhelms his opponents. He has alternated wins and losses in his last eight bouts and if you believe in patterns, a win should be next for him.
Moldavsky is the more well-rounded fighter here given his Combat Sambo background. However, I don’t think he does have the knockout punch to stop Timothy Johnson and that leaves him open to being outpunched during a slugfest. Moldavsky is smart enough not to be lured to a brawl but if he obliges, that could be a disaster with Johnson owning heavy hands as well. I think this fight won’t go the distance. I’m picking the underdog Timothy Johnson to win this bout. Prediction: Timothy Johnson