Bellator has tapped into our primal sources of nostalgia over huge MMA tournaments and are going to put on a heavyweight grand prix. Featuring legends and UFC veterans including heavyweights and light heavyweights, the tournament is going down early next year and right now, Matt Mitrione is the favorite to win it all. He’ll go into it on a three-fight win streak with his most recent victory being over Fedor Emelianenko. If it was up to him though, he’d rather have just got a title shot he felt he earned already.
“I’m not good at giving political answers, so I’ll give you an honest answer: I wasn’t really excited, to be honest. I think it would have been a true heavyweight grand prix to fill it with heavyweights. I think it would have been even better to do it in the same night. I think that would have been a lot of fun. But that’s not how it went. I think they chose the most athletic, most exciting guys they have, and I think that’s what the draw of the tournament is. I would have originally wanted just a title fight, and then have the winner of the tournament fight me for the title – and I would defend it hopefully once during the middle of the year.”
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 17, 2017
“Yeah, I think I expected [to be the favorite to win the grand prix], to be honest. I feel like I’m the best heavyweight Bellator has to offer, and I say rather readily that on any given day, I’m the best heavyweight in the world. I had just a couple of missteps [during my UFC career] and it cost me a pretty substantial amount in my name value, but I feel like when it comes down to scrapping, I’m one of the best in the world. So, I’m not surprised I’m the favorite. Then again, in that same breath, we have three light heavyweights and a bloated middleweight. If it was a full-fledged heavyweight grand prix or heavyweight tournament, then I think it might possibly be a little different. I think the smaller bodies make it a much more interesting tournament, for sure.” — Matt Mitrione speaking to MMA Junkie radio.
Matt Mitrione’s select criticisms are valid. Chael Sonnen said himself on the latest episode of The MMA Hour that Mitrione probably wasn’t too fond of the idea given that he was a fight away from a belt, now he has to win three in a row for the Bellator heavyweight title. However, it’s a big opportunity for the other guys in the grand prix. Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir will take on Fedor in one of the opening bouts, all of the other match-ups haven’t been officially confirmed by Bellator yet.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/22/2017.