Bellator 215: “Mitrione vs. Kharitonov” airs tomorrow night (Fri., Feb. 15, 2019) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The fans on the East coast are about to be treated to a massive mountain of muscle in the main event that comes packed with high knockout potential!
Let’s break it down:
265 lbs.: Matt Mitrione (13-6) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 1 NC)
Former Heavyweight Grand Prix competitor Matt Mitrione was knocked out of his bracket in the second round … though not by knockout. Ryan Bader used his wrestling background to the fullest of his abilities to take the bigger and heavier Mitrione down to the canvas repeatedly, taking virtually no damage for the entire duration of the fight. The fans in Uncasville may not have been thrilled by this one-sided domination, but if Mitrione feels in any way responsible for the outcome, this main event is his chance to make amends.
Sergei Kharitonov is very unlikely to follow the same gameplan as Bader. With 57 percent of his wins (16 of 28) coming by knockout, including the notoriously hard to finish Roy Nelson in his last Bellator fight, expect him to engage with Mitrione for some fireworks. Mitrione’s style is even more singular than his opponent’s with 84 percent of his wins (11 of 13) coming by knockout, so the question isn’t if they will stand in a phone booth and haul off with strikes but when.
Not only are they perfectly matched for each other stylistically, but they are also perfectly matched for each other in age and size. Mitrione is 40 and Kharitonov is 38, Mitrione is 6’3” and Kharitonov is 6’4,” Mitrione has a 79” reach and Kharitonov has a 76” reach. While that gives a slight advantage to Mitrione on reach, it also gives Kharitonov an equally slight advantage in age, and it would appear those two things basically negate each other when all things are considered. The edge ultimately favors Mitrione, though, because we’ve seen cracks in Kharitonov’s chin that are deeper than “Meathead” has ever shown.
Final prediction: Matt Mitrione wins via first round knockout
170 lbs.: Logan Storley (9-0) vs. Ion Pascu (18-9)
Following an impressive win at Bellator 204 in Sioux Falls, Logan “Storm” Storley gets another fight on the main card against a hungry Ion “Bombardierul” Pascu. Why is he so hungry? Well despite getting half of his wins by knockout (nine of 18) he has yet to win in the Bellator cage. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the stylistic match-up for him to turn things around. Storley is a wrestler both figuratively and literally, cut from Brock Lesnar’s mold — same hometown, same collegiate experience, same method of dominance. Storley has an uncanny ability to sweep opponents off their feet and lay in hands and elbows until they turtle up and capitulate. Unless Pascu is quicker to the punch or is able to time a takedown with a well placed knee, I see no reason Storley won’t remain undefeated.
Final prediction: Logan Storley wins via first round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Eduardo Dantas (20-6) vs. Toby Misech (12-6)
Things have not gone so well for Mr. Dantas of late. The former Bellator champion lost his title to “The Wolf” Darrion Caldwell in a grueling five-round decision, then got KTFO by the now retired Michael McDonald. Bellator is giving him every opportunity to turn things around with late notice fighter Toby Misech on this card. At 10-5 he’s certainly not a pushover, and he’s coming off a win on the “Prelims” undercard of Bellator 212, so good for him. The jury is still out on his overall game, though. He had a test on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender’s Series and flunked it, and he’s a “streaky” fighter who goes in surges and slumps. The difference maker is definitely the ground game. Misech has never submitted anybody, Dantas has six wins by submission, and after being rocked in his last bout, Dantas will surely want to avoid the stand up and take this one to the ground. We shall see.
Final prediction: Eduardo Dantas via third round submission
135 lbs.: Michael Kimbel (2-0) vs. Jonathan Douma (3-1)
Kimbel is a highlight-reel fighter with a somewhat mysterious background. That’s fine. Nobody is paying him to tell his life story — not yet anyway. Right now people just want to see him get quick finishes, and he’s two for two in that category. Douma is handpicked for him to get another stoppage. He’s not even undefeated on the minor circuit and is coming in off a technical knockout loss to Adam Acquaviva six months ago. The only thing Kimbel should worry about is that Douma may have improved somewhat in those six months.
Final prediction: Michael Kimbel wins via first round knockout
170 lbs.: Austin Vanderford (6-0) vs. Cody Jones (6-2)
Rounding out the main card is “Mr. VanZant” Austin Vanderford against yet another handpicked opponent in Cody Jones. Some say Vanderford is the most hated man in MMA, but I don’t think he’s exceeded Conor McGregor’s level of fame/infamy just yet. Not by a long shot. He’s a star on the rise, though, and curiously given his association with Paige VanZant UFC let him slip through its fingers despite having gotten an impressive come-from-behind win on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” He has split his finishes 50/50 between knockouts and submissions, while Jones is more of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu man (two out of three finishes). Given that Vanderford rolls with some studs out in Portland, Ore., I doubt that’ll be a problem for him.
Final prediction: Austin Vanderford wins via submission
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 215 tomorrow with a main card on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET and DAZN fights starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.