Before the big event, Emelianenko put on a show for the fans and media at the open workouts in San Jose, California on Wednesday, hitting the mitts at the famed American Kickboxing Academy (AKA).
Emelianenko retired in 2012 but decided to make a comeback in 2015. The stoic Russian beat MMA newcomer Singh Jaideep at Rizin’s debut event in Saitama, Japan, and went on to beat former UFC light heavyweight contender Fabio Maldonado in a highly controversial majority decision at EFN 50.
Emelianenko sustained serious damage in the Maldonado bout but admitted that he had no plans to retire. That fight took place in July 2016, and the 40-year-old has had ample time to recover, but many fans have been critical of his decision to continue fighting.
Emelianenko’s heavyweight bout against Mitrione will headline Bellator 172 at SAP Center in San Jose, California on Feb 18. To check out the full fight card, click here.