Back in June, in the co-main event of the Bellator NYC pay-per-view, Bellator heavyweight star Matt Mitrione stepped onto the canvas with MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko. The fight was absolutely while it lasted.
About a minute into the first round, Fedor and Mitrione both threw, both landed, and both hit the deck. In an instant, it all seemed to come down to who would be able to regain their composure and crank up the offense first. In the end, that man was Mitrione, who stormed his legendary foe with punches en route to a first-round knockout win.
On the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio, Mitrione went in-depth on the experience of fighting Fedor. While he admits he wasn’t particularly starstruck by Fedor, having been busy with football at the time of the legend’s heyday, he explained that he quickly realized why Fedor is so highly regarded in the cage.
“I really meant what I was saying, and I hope it didn’t come off as me being dismissive of him, but I didn’t grow up watching fighting,” Mitrione explained. “I was a football guy. So when Fedor was Fedor, I didn’t know who Fedor was because I was still playing football. It was never that big of a deal to me to fight him. I’d hear so many people be like, ‘oh my god, that’s Fedor, blah blah blah,’ but for me it was just fighting another dude who had a great reputation. So it wasn’t really that much. But we’re in the middle of the fight, and I can tell you that there’s nobody I’ve ever fought before that did what he did, that had the capability of making me uncomfortable when I’m dictating tempo and distance. And that’s impressive.”
In fact, Mitrione found Fedor’s striking so impressive that he was terrified of returning to the feet with him after their double knockdown.
“He fell down and his head hit the ground,” he said. “I fell down and hit my butt. I swear to god, at the moment it happened, I thought to myself ‘holy shit, he’s so good, I don’t want to stand back up with him.’ I swear to god, I was like, ‘I need to finish this fight right now.’ So I jumped on him and thank god it worked out that way.”
“He is so good at what he does that I felt peril if I stood back up with him.”
What do you think of this assessment of Fedor Emelianenko from Matt Mitrione? Who do you want to see Mitrione fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/5/2017.