Over the last few years, Bellator’s heavyweight division has really come together, as the promotion has bolstered its roster with names like Cheick Kongo, Bobby Lashley, Matt Mitrione, Fedor Emelianenko, Sergey Kharitonov, Javy Ayala, Roy Nelson, and most recently, former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. That said, the organization has not had a heavyweight champion since it stripped the undefeated Vitaly Minakov of the belt after a bevy of contract issues.
Matt Mitrione is hoping that changes soon. The Bellator heavyweight star discussed Bellator’s empty heavyweight throne on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio.
While there has recently been some buzz about a possible tournament to crown a new Bellator heavyweight champion, Mitrione would much prefer to fight one of his peers in a traditional heavyweight title fight. From there, he says, he’d be happy to defend the title against the winner of a hypothetical tournament.
“I would love to be in a title fight in late 2017,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger. I want to fight. I want to earn my time. I’ve got a fan base that wants to watch me fight. So, if have to wait until 2018, fine, but I sure as all would rather have a title fight in early 2018, and then the cherry on top of the sundae, have the heavyweight tournament. Let whoever they want fight their ass of to get to me, like Bellator used to do. However that goes, cool, I don’t care.”
As for competing in the heavyweight tournament in an effort to win the belt? Well, Mitrione says it’d take some negotiating to get him to agree to that.
“[If] you want me to fight in the tournament? Well, we’ve got some negotiating to do, but it sounds like an interesting conversation.”
Whatever the case, Mitrione expects to fight for gold in the near future.
“To be honest, if I don’t fight for the title in the very near future, I’ll be very surprised. I think I’ve earned it, I think my fighting style has earned it.”
Do you think that it’s time that Matt Mitrione, who is now 3-0 in the Bellator cage, is given the chance to vie for heavyweight gold? Join the conversation in the comments section!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/5/2017.