Bellator 172, which is taking place in a few short months, will be headlined by a heavyweight division fight between UFC veteran Matt Mitrione and legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.
Despite rumors of the fight going around for weeks now, Mitrione says he was legitimately surprised that it was Emelianenko coming out on stage to fight him.
“It was such a surprise,” Mitrione told MMA Junkie Radio. “Honestly, I thought it was going to be ‘Rampage.’ And he started to walk out in that sweater of all things, I thought, ‘Oh, good God, this is great.’ Totally legit – I was under the impression that Fedor was having issues in M-1, and there wasn’t going to be a co-branding with Bellator. So I was under the impression that Fedor wasn’t the scoop, and I also heard that Fedor was fighting Shane Carwin. He wasn’t even on my radar. There was a small hope. But then I thought, ‘Maybe it’ll be Shane Carwin. Maybe it’ll be (Sergei) Kharitonov, but Kharitonov just lost, so what other big name could there be unless they have a new signing I don’t know about?’ It’s got to be ‘Rampage.’ So that was kind of my thought. Apparently I was wrong – thankfully. I mean, I’m happy about it.”
Mitrione didn’t trash talk at all to Fedor during their face to face encounter at Bellator 165, that’s because he respects the legendary fighter.
“Who am I to bum gums with Fedor? At the right time, when we’re really hyping the fight or whatever else, yeah, sure,” Mitrione said. “But at that time, I was just happy to see that Fedor was coming back. I was happy that I was going to have the opportunity to punch him in his face. I was happy. Why would I want to ruin that with talking (expletive)? I’m not that guy. I bum gums with the best of them in the world, and I can hold my own, verbally, with anybody. But it just wasn’t that time or the place. I’m not going to have a contrived, (Conor) McGregor-esque pre-determined comments. I’m going to be myself, and I’m going to have it come out and be who I am.”
Bellator 172 takes place on Saturday, February 18 from the SAP Center in san Jose, California with Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione headlining.