Whether it was out of blind fandom, curiosity, or just taking what may be one of a very few last chances to see an MMA legend before he fades from the sport entirely, Bellator 172 featuring Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione was a big deal. Fedor may not be the fighter he was at the height of his Pride FC glory days, but he’s still a fighter fans want to watch. And given that he wasn’t even a betting favorite over Mitrione in the lead up their bout, his Bellator debut came with a fair bit of intrigue.
Only, it didn’t - happen, that is. Or at least, not yet. The fight that was scheduled for February 18th, 2017 got cancelled at the last minute. The reason? Matt Mitrione had a kidney stone to pass.
On a recent episode of the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Mitrione described those hours leading up to and following his fight getting cancelled, and the emotional roller coaster he’s gone through (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“It really started to kick in on Friday, and I didn’t know if I got sick all of sudden, just what the problem was, but it kept magnifying and amplifying,” Mitrione said. “It got to the point where I was absolutely miserable. At weigh-ins, I had to put on a show and be like, ‘hey, I look good,’ because I don’t want Fedor to see this puking, doubled-over-in-agony kind of guy. It just was really difficult, and then it just kept getting worse.
“On Saturday, Bellator was like, ‘look dude, we have to go to the hospital, this thing isn’t right, something’s going on.’ We went to the hospital, told them what’s going on. They said, ‘look, it’s probably kidney stones.’ They hooked me to my IVs to try to flush it out, and then they gave me a CT scan to see what was really going on, and that’s when they saw the stone. The stone hadn’t even passed.”
If the kidney stone wasn’t painful enough, the aftermath of such a big fight getting cancelled hasn’t been much kinder. Mitrione has been dealing with a ton of fan backlash following the event, as well as his personal guilt over such a big fight getting scrapped. To prevent it happening again, he’s going to have to undergo surgery to remove an additional half dozen stones.
“I apologized,” Mitrione said. “I was like, ‘dude, I’m so sorry, man. I can’t believe this happened. I’m devastated, man. I’m really sorry.’ I know how much money they put into this, I know how much stock they put into it. I know that was no counter-programming. We were the only show in town. It was a massive, massive fight, and I dropped the ball. It’s just, it sucks. It’s a feeling of absolute tremendous guilt. And then what really sucks, man, is to see every single douchebag on the planet who could possibly create any kind of something, writing something on Twitter, being like, ‘oh you coward, you didn’t even try, you should’ve known months ahead of time.’ Dude, go f*ck yourself. Are you for real?
“This thing, a kidney stone in this situation that came out of nowhere, just cost Bellator millions of dollars. It cost the fight world an incredible fight that I really believe everybody wanted to see (and that people) were really excited about and really hyped. I owe the fans a fight. I owe Fedor a fight. Fedor and I owe the fans a fight. And I’m going to get it taken care of, man. It sucks that I’m going to have a metal rod stuffed in my pee-hole to get this thing taken care of so it never happens again, but I can at least eliminate this from any kind of concern in anybody’s eyes that it’ll never come up again.”
Strangely however, it sounds like Mitrione’s potential return date, even with surgery, is a lot shorter than Fedor’s. After the bout against Mitrione dissolved, Fedor told reporters that he would be targeting May or June for his return. A time table that Mitrione doesn’t sound all that willing to meet, telling Helwani “I have not been re-booked, but if Fedor wants to wait until May or June, if that’s what his heart is, then that’s cool. I’m not going to wait that long.”
That leaves only one question: if a fight with Mitrione falls off the table, who should Fedor face in his Bellator debut?