Both men will collide in a headlining bout tomorrow night, Feb 18, in a card that promises to be one of Bellator’s biggest events of the year.
Bellator 172 marks the first time Emelianenko has fought on American soil for over five years, as the Russian legend last set foot in the U.S. under Scott Coker’s Strikeforce banner in 2011. ‘The Last Emperor’ was knocked out by fellow MMA vet Dan Henderson in the main event and announced his retirement the following year.
Emelianenko shocked the fight world when he announced his return to MMA in 2015, opting to sign with Japanese MMA promotion Rizin for their debut show in Saitama, Japan. The former PRIDE HW champion made short work of Singh, finishing him via strikes in the first round, and went on to fight Fabio Maldonado in one of 2016’s most controversial bouts at EFN 50.
Emelianenko won via majority decision, but many felt the 40-year-old sustained too much punishment to be awarded the win.
Mitrione, a former UFC contender and Ultimate Fighter contestant, left the promotion after losing two straight last year and signed with Bellator. The 38-year-old made his debut against Carl Seumanutafa, earning an impressive first-round KO, and then went on to finish England’s Oli Thompson via strikes in July. Mitrione will look to secure the biggest win of his career when he takes on Emelianenko at Bellator 172.
The event takes place on Saturday evening, February 18, at SAP Center in San Jose, California.