Bellator has announced a number of intriguing matchups to its early 2019 schedule, and I’ll give my thoughts on these bouts on today’s MMA odds and ends.
Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov, Bellator 215
Heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov will clash at Bellator 215, which takes place February 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mitrione (13-6) is 4-1 in Bellator but lost a lopsided decision to Matt Mitrione his last time out. Kharitonov (28-6, 1 NC) is 2-1 in Bellator and in his last fight brutally knocked out Roy Nelson. It’s crazy to think Mitrione is two years older than Kharitonov considering how long he has been in the sport, but it justs shows you how long Kharitonov has been a quality heavyweight for. This should be a entertaining striking battle and either guy has the potential to land the KO. With his speed advantage I’d probably favor Mitrione just slightly here, but Kharitonov has looked great lately and can’t be counted out.
Michael Page vs. Paul Daley, Bellator 216
Welterweight rivals Michael Page and Paul Daley will finally square off when they meet at Bellator 216, which is set for February 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Page (13-0) is 9-0 in Bellator and is coming off of a TKO win over David Rickels. He’s one of the most talented strikers to ever compete in MMA, but so far Bellator hasn’t given him a tough level of competition, until now that is. Daley (40-16-2) is 6-3 in Bellator and in his last fight lost a decision to Jon Fitch. We all know the story with Daley: if he can stop the takedown, he’ll have a chance to get the KO. Against Page, though, that’s won’t be as easy. Even though this is the toughest fight of Page’s career I would still favor him to win this fight as the younger, fresher fighter.
Vitaly Minakov vs. Cheick Kongo 2, Bellator 216
A rematch between heavyweights Vitaly Miankov and Cheick Kongo is also scheduled for Bellator 216. The two previously met in 2014, with Minakov winning a unanimous decision. Minakov (21-0) is the former Bellator heavyweight champion and he went 7-0 in Russia after vacating his belt and leaving Bellator. He is one of the best heavyweights in the world outside of the UFC and has wins over the likes of Alexander Volkov, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and Juan Espino. Kongo (29-10-2) is 11-2 in Bellator and is currently on a seven-fight win streak with a KO win over Tim Johnson in his last fight. Kongo has looked amazing in Bellator but we have seen him fight Minakov before and it didn’t go well. I don’t expect it to this time around either. Look for Minakov to be a big favorite here.
Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Ashleigh Grimshaw, Bellator 217
Featherweights Emmanuel Sanchez and Ashleigh Grimshaw will headline Bellator 217, which takes palce March 22 at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Sanchez (17-4) is 9-3 in Bellator and in his last fight lost a close decision to Patricio Pitbull in his bid to become the Bellator featherweight champion. Prior to the Pitbull fight, Sanchez had won four straight bouts. Grimshaw (20-10-1, 3 NC) is a long-time veteran of the sport and will be making his UFC debut here after four straight wins on the regional scene. Although Grimshaw is deserving of the opportunity to fight in a big promotion, there’s no doubt Sanchez is going to be a big favorite to defeat him in this fight.