Matt Mitrione was forced out of the Bellator 172 main event on Saturday evening, just hours before the tent-pole event kicked off, and opponent Fedor Emelianenko was left without an opponent. MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani reported that a late replacement was briefly sought; Chael Sonnen, who recently made his comeback to mixed martial arts, offered his services, and Oli Thompson, who fights Cheick Kongo tonight on the main card, was also in discussions.
Chael Sonnen offered to fight Fedor on just hours notice, I'm told. He was ready to go. Bellator was interested but it didn't come together.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 18, 2017
Moneyweight @KingMoFH is in the house already, and he said he’ll fight Fedor tonight. Lol. Gotta love it.— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) February 19, 2017
However, it appears that Emelianenko was not open to the idea of fighting someone not named Mitrione on so little notice. It should be noted, however, that even if Emelianenko accepted a fight with one of the above candidates, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) allowing the fight to occur would have been highly unlikely.
Another name discussed as a late replacement was Oli Thompson, but again, no dice. Doesn't sound like Fedor was into late replacement idea.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 18, 2017
Meanwhile, Patricio Pitbull jokingly wanted his featherweight title fight vs. champion Daniel Straus moved from April to tonight’s event.
Bellator 172 takes place live from SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., this evening. A pivotal lightweight bout between Josh Thomson and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire now headlines. The event also marks the Bellator MMA debut of veteran Josh Koscheck.