It has been more than a year since the last time Vitaly Minakov has stepped into the Bellator MMA cage, he defeated UFC veteran Cheick Kongo in his last fight with the promotion.
It has been almost a year since the promotion stripped him of the heavyweight title, but even without the gold, Minakov believes he’s still the champion.
"I consider it was typical to (strip) me,” Minakov said to MMA Fighting. "First of all, I have not fought in this company for four years. (…) Even though I have been (stripped), as you can see, and due to non-sporting reason, I consider myself as Bellator champion. I didn’t lose any fight. It is just a formal decision.”
Since being stripped of the gold, Minakov has exclusively fought out of the Russia based Fight Nights promotion. Minakov competed this week at Fight Nights 59, where he defeated World Series Of Fighting veteran DJ Linderman. Minakov showed up visibly out of shape.
If the Russian heavyweight and the Viacom owned promotion can come together on a contract, he could return to get his gold back.
"Lately, I fight only in Russia in Fight Nights Global,” Minakov said. "If we have luck in communication with Bellator, I will continue there. If not, I am looking for strong opponents in Fight Nights Global. If the organization agrees to make our contract acceptable. I will not keep myself waiting for a long time."