Uncasville, Connecticut – Friday, February 16 – 11:00 pm (ET) / 4:00am (GMT)
Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix continues at Bellator 194 when Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione face off in the second matchup of the tournament. Nelson and Mitrione will be fighting for the second time as they collide in the main event in Uncasville, Connecticut this Friday night.
Roy Nelson made the switch over to Bellator in 2017 and enjoyed a successful debut with the organization at Bellator 183 when he defeated Javy Ayala over the course of three rounds. It might not have been the action-packed spectacle that many were hoping for, but Nelson showcased that he is clearly prioritizing winning rather than entertainment right now – and that’s completely fine in any case. For his second matchup with Bellator, he’ll face arguably the best heavyweight on the roster in Matt Mitrione.
Matt Mitrione has developed into a wrecking ball inside the heavyweight division over at Bellator. The last time we saw him, both he and Fedor connected with a devastating punch at the same time and both fighters went down to the mat. It was Mitrione who recovered first, however, and he got back to his feet in time to land the finishing blows on Fedor and end the fight. The win made it three in a row for the 39-year-old, who has now finished all three of his last opponents since losing to Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell in the UFC.
While Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione physically appear like they are competing in different leagues, the two are both on approximately the same level when it comes to their skills and abilities as a mixed martial artist.
The athletic Mitrione has used his speed, size, and power, combined with noticeable improvements to his striking to really make his way through the Bellator heavyweight division and cement himself as a frontrunner in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. He fights out of a southpaw stance and uses rapid footwork and movements to dance in and out before attempting to land flush with his signature left hand. More often than not, he lands it.
But connecting with his left hand might come at a cost against Roy Nelson. Nelson is excellent at timing his powerful right hand and will often patiently draw out movements from his opponent so that he can find the right time to land it. If he doesn’t, or cannot, connect with his right hand, he looks to use his excellent takedowns against the cage to get the fight to the mat with urgency. Once there, he uses a mixture of jiu-jitsu techniques to keep his opponent pinned to the mat before eventually doing enough to win the round. Against Derrick Lewis, Nelson wasn’t able to win rounds despite his takedowns, so he has seemingly lifted his output and improved his strategy since then.
Since their release, the odds haven’t moved all that much for this fight. Mitrione was released at close to -180 @ BetOnline while Nelson can be found at close to +160 @ Bovada. The public and oddsmakers clearly feel that Mitrione is not just expected to win this fight, but the tournament as well.
Nelson won the first time that these two met inside the cage and he has the ability to do it again this time. Mitrione might be the better striker of the two, considering his mobility, but he continues to get dropped by powerful punches and Nelson’s might be enough to end the fight. If the fight lasts past the first round, Nelson might also be able to use his takedowns and heavy top pressure to control the contest. It’ll be a tough ask, but he represents excellent value as an underdog in this matchup.
Best Bet: Roy Nelson to win – +155 @ Bovada