MMA Ratings Podcast

October 12, 2018

Bellator Grand Prix Heavyweight Finals Will Be Determined This Weekend

By Adam Martin

Two Bellator cards take place this weekend, with Bellator 207 going down tonight at Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, and Bellator 208 going down Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Both eventss have been flying under the radar in the wake of UFC 229, but both cardss feature compelling fights that make them must-watch for hardcore MMA fans. In particular, fight fans can look forward to the main events of both cards, which feature Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals. The spread between tournament fights has made the HWGP lose some of its initial momentum, but that should be restored this weekend.

Tonight at Bellator 207, Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader fights Matt Mitrione in the first of two heavyweight semifinals. Bader left the UFC on a nice win streak before signing with Bellator as a big-money free agent, and so far he has not disappointed. He beat Phil Davis in his Bellator debut to win the belt, defended it against Linton Vassell, and then moved up to heavyweight for this tournament, where he needed just 15 seconds to finish King Mo in the quarterfinals. Letting Bader go was a big misstep by the UFC, as he's won 10 of his last 11 fights and looks to be one of the best fighters in the world right now at 205 pounds.

That being said, as good as Bader has looked in Bellator so far, he will undoubtedly face a stiff test against Mitrione, who is a physically bigger man and a natural heavyweight. Just like Bader, Gegard Mousasi, Rory MacDonald and a host of others, Mitrione has looked fantastic in Bellator since leaving the UFC. He's won four straight fights including beating Roy Nelson in the quarterfinals and knocking out Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator NYC. Mitrione is a freak athlete with massive knockout power, but his takedown defense is questionable, and that's why the oddsmakers are leaning towards Bader winning this fight. But if anyone can land the KO it's Mitrione, so this fight should be a lot of fun to watch.

The winner of the Bader vs. Mitrione fight will go to the finals, where he will meet the winner of the other semifinal bout between Fedor and Chael Sonnen, which headlines Bellator 208. This is one of the biggest fights that Bellator can put together as far as name value goes, as it pits the legend Emelianenko against the mouthpiece Sonnen, with each man having earned this fight by picking up an upset in the quarterfinals. After everyone counted him out against Frank Mir, Emelianenko turned back the clock and picked up a brutal KO win in the quarterfinals. A lot of people were writing him off too soon after losing to Mitrione in his Bellator debut, but he proved against Mir that he still has some gas left in the tank.

As for Sonnen, he's looked much better in Bellator as of late. After getting submitted by Tito Ortiz in his Bellator debut, Sonnen picked up a decision win over Wanderlei Silva to get back on track, and then he defeated Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in a quarterfinals upset. We haven't seen Sonnen fight at heavyweight in years, so it was impressive that he was able to beat a bigger man in Jackson, and he even showed off some improvements in his striking. That being said, there's no doubt Sonnen will try and take Emelianenko down in this fight, as the Russian legend is much more dangerous on the feet. Emelianenko is the betting favorite due to his knockout power, but many smart MMA minds believe Sonnen may be able to grind out a decision.

All the eyeballs are still on the UFC right now because of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor's antics, and these two Bellator cards are flying way under the radar, but these heavyweight semifinal bouts make the events worth keeping an eye on. Even if you think some of the fighters in the tournament are past their prime, the matchups are still very compelling, and Bellator did well in matching up the initial bracket the way they did, leading to two awesome semifinal bouts. Bellator is showing once again why MMA was built on tournaments, because it's still one of the best ways to find out who the best man is. This weekend we'll inch that much closer to finding out who the best heavyweight outside the UFC is.

Bellator 207
Matt Mitrione vs. Ryan Bader (HW Grand Prix Semifinal)

Bellator 208
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Chael Sonnen (HW Grand Prix Semifinal)

Bellator 207: Mitrione vs. Bader takes place October 12, 2018 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Click HERE for more Bellator 207 Pre-Fight Analysis

Bellator 208: Fedor vs. Sonnen takes place October 13, 2018 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Click HERE for more Bellator 208 Pre-Fight Analysis

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