First things first: In case anyone needed this cleared up, Matt Mitrione wasn’t actually looking to start off his Bellator 215 main event against Sergei Kharitonov with a fight-ending kick to the groin.
“I’ve never kicked anybody in the nuts before,” Mitrione told host Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “So I didn’t really know if it was a low kick or not. I had no idea as far as how it landed.”
But land, it did, ending the heavyweight bout at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena in a no-contest just 15 seconds in.
And Mitrione hopes that he’ll have a chance to run the fight back. The fighter nicknamed “Meathead” had hoped the bout could have been rescheduled for Bellator 216 the following night, but with Kharitonov requiring two hospital trips due to the the groin strike, it just wasn’t feasible.
“It’s not awesome, we’re not really happy about it, but we went out there and it just sucks that it was the very first connected strike in the entire fight,” Mitrione said. “And I told them, look, man, if there’s any way he can fight tomorrow, which would be Saturday, or any situation, he’s the only guy I really want to fight. I think it would be great, I think the fans want to see that fight so if we can run it back, I’ll do it.”
Bellator, however, has scheduled an event for May 11 at AllState Arena in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill., and for Mitrione, at least, it’s a date which makes sense.
“The conversation of May 11 came up in, and that’s where, I’m from Illinois, I live in the Midwest and I feel like if I got to fight Kharitonov in Chicago I’d bring 1,000 people in.”
Mitrione believes the low kick came as a result Kharitonov moving in towards a kick Mitrione had aimed to land on his inner thigh, an attempt to make Kharitonov think twice about jabbing to his body.
“He threw one body jab before,” Mitrione said. “He threw another body jab and had to lower his level, came in and when he saw the kick coming in he kind of rolled his hips in. So I was intending it to land on his mid-to-upper thigh. Because primarily it takes away the check, and also it’s sensitive up there. It’s a really delicate area of your body, and those kicks make a lot of difference as far as power generation and tenderness. So that was part of the plan, go ahead and attack his legs, and I felt like he was sitting back a lot, I felt he was sitting on his rear leg, and kind of felt like everything he did was kind of telegraphed really quickly, so I thought I’d be able to touch his legs a little bit, get him to be a little more tender about throwing that body jab, and then kind of went from there.”
If Mitrione doesn’t get the Kharitonov walk-back, there’s another fight which interests him: A bout with Cheick Kongo.
Kongo, in theory, is getting the next crack at newly crowned Bellator heavyweight champ Ryan Bader, by virtue of his lackluster win over Vitaly Minakov at Bellator 216. But this doesn’t take into account with Bader will defend his heavyweight or light heavyweight belts next.
Add in the fact that Kongo talked about Mitrione during fight week, and Mitrione wouldn’t mind a do over of their 2011 fight, in which Kongo handed Mitrione his first pro loss via unanimous decision.
“I’d certainly fight Kongo again,” Mitrione said. “I don’t think Kongo really fights much at all. I think he just backs up and runs cage defense. When I saw, he had my name in his mouth this week when he was trying to argue with Bader, but I mean, if that’s the case, I’ll knock Kongo out, I don’t mind. He runs away a lot, so I think it’s almost like Kongo is a refresher for judges to have to remember cage control and presence, and you can’t counter and run away from a fight and still claim to win it. I just don’t think that makes sense. So, hey if you want to say his name out loud, I’ll punch you in the mouth. I don’t mind.”