On Saturday, August 24th, Bellator will be live from the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for Bellator 225: Mitrione vs Kharitonov 2. This MMA card features a heavyweight rematch in the main event as Matt Mitrione takes on Sergei Kharitonov. Their first fight ended in a No Contest after an accidental kick to the groin.
The co-main event of the night is a heavyweight clash between former Bellator champ Vitaly Minakov and Javy Ayala. Both men are hoping that a win could put them in line for a fight against the main event winner. The Bellator 225 main card also features a women’s fight, a catchweight clash, and a third heavyweight battle.
Bellator 225 begins at 5:45 PM ET with the prelims. The main card begins at 9 PM ET and can be seen on DAZN or Paramount Network. Currently, MMA betting sites have a limited amount of betting lines available for this fight. Regardless, we will still step inside the betting octagon to examine lines, identify some betting value, and KO our picks.
Rudy Schaffroth is 2-0 with Bellator, but hasn’t fought since last November. He was lined up for a fight in April, but the bout was scrapped. After nearly nine months, Rudy is eager to get inside the cage and take on another undefeated heavyweight prospect. Ironically, these two men used to be wrestling teammates back in community college. Schaffroth doesn’t take this fight personally despite what Fortune says. In fact, he told Cageside Press that he actually respects his opponent and believes that Fortune’s overconfidence will be a huge mistake:
“I respect him and his ability but I don’t know if he has every respected me and my ability. I don’t think he has ever viewed me as an equal. I feel he will be overconfident. It’s gonna be a huge mistake.”
Schaffroth recognizes that Fortune is his toughest opponent to date, but he feels that he has the advantage in many areas including jiu-jitsu and striking:
“He is my toughest opponent, but I’m his toughest opponent by three or four times… I have the reach advantage, I have the standup advantage, I think I have the advantage in jiu-jitsu. I feel very confident about this matchup.”
Fortune last fought in February and won via TKO in the first round. All six of his pro fights have been with Bellator as Tyrell was aggressively sought after as an amateur by the promotion. With a strong wrestling background, it’s been Fortune’s striking power that has earned him four TKO/KO wins.
Fortune sees this fight going a different way. Tyrell believes he’s the superior athlete and that Schaffroth is going to tire out quickly:
“I’m just a better athlete, plain and simple. If you look at Rudy’s fights, all his knockouts in the first round, and even those knockouts under the first three minutes, he was tired. So I think he has to come out really fast at the beginning of the fight to try to get me out of there with a knockout, or he’s gonna be tired. And if you’re a heavyweight and you’re tired, you’re gonna get knocked out.”
I have to side with Fortune here. I do believe he’s the better athlete and wrestler. He might give up a reach, height, and power advantage, but he makes up for it in speed and athleticism. I think this is an exciting opener for the main card and it should get the crowd into it. Bellator is quietly hoping that Fortune can continue to win and bring more fortune to the company. Take Tyrell Fortune to win at Bellator 225 by TKO.
David “The Caveman” Rickels is a veteran of the fight game. With 27 pro fights under his belt, Rickels has competed in Bellator since 2011. He holds the record for most fights under the Bellator banner with 22 and the most wins for a non-champion with 15, which is also the third most victories for anyone in Bellator history.
Rickels last fought five months ago and won via TKO. He’s 5-1 with one NC in his last seven fights. The Caveman last lost 15 months ago via TKO to MVP. Rickels has remained a relevant fighter and could put himself back in the hunt for a title down the line. However, this fight is going to be contested at a catchweight of 175 pounds and not the typical 170-pound welterweight limit.
Amosov is undefeated in his career and last fought in February. He’s 2-0 with Bellator and picked up a solid win over Erick Silva in February via UD. 17 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage. Although he respects his opponent, Amosov told MyMMANews that is very confident he will win via UD or knockout:
“I think I can win in any aspect, both in impact technique and in wrestling. I think we will go through all three rounds and I will take each one to my advantage. But I will be determined to win by knockout. I think, after the victory over Rickels, I will have one or two fights and I can get a fight for the Bellator champion belt.”
I can see Amosov getting the KO/TKO in this fight. Four of Rickels’ five career losses have come via TKO/KO. However, the safe bet is that Amosov outworks Rickels for three rounds and wins via UD. Amosov is the superior grappler and he will definitely use that to his advantage on Saturday night. Either way, go with Amosov in this fight and remain undefeated.
It really puzzles me as to why this fight is on the main card for Bellator 225. There are a handful of preliminary bouts that offer more entertainment and better fighters than this women’s flyweight fight. Once again, Bellator finds a way to irk me with this uninteresting matchup.
Turner is 3-5 in her career, but on a two-fight win streak. She last fought two months ago and won via TKO over Hardy. Prior to these two wins, Turner lost five straight fights and baffled many pundits as to why Bellator would even sign her.
Lara came into Bellator with a bit more excitement as she was 7-1 at the time. She challenged for the flyweight title in her first fight with the promotion, but lost via submission in the third round to the champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Lara’s next fight was six months later in December 2018 and she lost via split decision. Lara has dropped both of her Bellator fights and is need of a bounce back win.
Six of Lara’s seven pro wins have come via stoppage. All five of Turner’s losses have come via stoppage. I see Lara getting the stoppage win in this fight as she’s just the better all-around fighter. She will either outstrike or outgrapple Turner until she finds the stoppage. Turner has never gone the distance in a pro fight.
In the co-main event of the night, Minakov and Ayala look to pick up a big win in the heavyweight division. In fact, the winner could be in line for a fight against the winner of Mitrione vs Kharitonov. And, the loser could end up being the perfect opponent for the winner of Fortune vs Schaffroth. With three heavyweight fights on the main card, Bellator got this portion of the booking right.
Ayala has been through many wars in Bellator including losing to Kongo and Nelson before snapping that two-fight skid with a victory over Frank Mir last December. Ayala has gone 3-4 in his last seven fights, but still has an overall winning record inside Bellator at 6-4. One victory that should be mentioned is his win over Kharitonov in November 2016. If Ayala and Kharitonov both win on Saturday, then I believe this should be a rematch with the winner getting a title shot.
As for this fight, Ayala always knew that his path would cross with Minakov one day. So, Ayala has been mentally preparing for this moment and feels like he’s evolved enough as a fighter to gain a big victory. Javy sees this win as an opportunity to put his name back into the upper echelon of the division. I agree with him that the winner will move up in the division and probably be one more fight away from earning a title shot.
Minakov returned to Bellator after almost five years. He was the former heavyweight champ of the promotion, but left due to contractual issues. Nobody ever beat him for the title, but the promotion stripped him due to inactivity. Vitaly returned with the goal of getting back his title, but ended up losing via UD to Cheick Kongo who he defeated five years ago in his last fight with Bellator. It was a surprise loss for the previously undefeated Russian champ.
Minakov is the better grappler and fighter in this contest. It’s actually a high risk, little reward fight. He will be the favorite to win, but a loss could be catastrophic. Fortunately, I don’t see him losing at Bellator 225. Ayala beat a “shot” Frank Mir who should’ve retired years ago. Ayala is a step below Kongo in my opinion, which bodes well for Minakov who I bet won’t make the same mistakes he made in his last fight. Take Minakov to win via late-round TKO or via UD.
In the main event, we have a rematch of a Bellator 215 fight also known as the “crotch kick heard around the world.” In that fight, Mitrione went for a leg kick and ended up striking Kharitonov right in his “man region.” Sergei collapsed and couldn’t continue. It lasted 15 seconds, which was long enough for one man to kick another man in the groin then go out and have some beers afterward. With that said, I expect a different outcome for this fight.
MMA betting sites have these heavyweights close in odds, which means that each man offers betting value. In my Bellator 215 betting preview, I made the following comments about who I thought would win:
“For me, Kharitonov is just not a great fighter anymore. He’s more of a name than a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division. With that said, he does provide a tough matchup for Mitrione. Sergei has the striking skills to win a standup fight against Mitrione. He also has the clinch skills to beat up ‘Meathead.’ And his ground game is almost as good as his opponent’s.
Sergei is going to have to catch Mitrione cleanly to really change the landscape of this fight. And I don’t see it happening. Matt has shown a surprising amount of athleticism for being such a big man. He also hits like a Mack truck. I think Mitrione can turn this fight into an ugly battle and win it either via ground and pound or out-slugging Kharitonov.”
I stick by that assessment for this fight as well. Mitrione is more athletic and I’m not sold on Kharitonov. I believe he’s a rung below Mitrione and Kongo on the heavyweight ladder. I predicted Mitrione to win via TKO in the third round for their Bellator 215 fight, and I’m going with that prediction for this Bellator 225 main event fight as well.
I really like Mitrione’s odds at -115, I think there’s great betting value. I believe that the online betting sites have undervalued Mitrione for this fight and have overvalued Kharitonov.
Other than the women’s flyweight debacle, I really like this Bellator 225 main card. Three heavyweight fights should all provide entertainment value and the catchweight bout could be the best fight of the main card. There are a few prelim bouts to keep an eye on as well, which just adds to the overall value of this event. We’ll have to wait and see if MMA betting sites release more odds for the listed Bellator 225 fights in order to make more money. With that said, the main event seems like a steal to me. Mitrione is the better fight and should win.
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