Matt Mitrone survived a dominant third round by Roy Nelson to hang on for a majority decision win at Bellator 194.
Bellator 194 went down Friday, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. In the main event, the Bellator World Heavyweight Grand Prix ramped up once more, with Roy Nelson taking on Matt Mitrione. Representing one of the few “pure” heavyweight bookings of the eight-man tournament, the winner of Nelson vs. Mitrione was sure to be a favorite to win the Grand Prix, and the heavyweight title, at the end of the year.
Mitrione had won three straight in Bellator, including a notable victory over Fedor Emelianenko last June at Bellator NYC. Nelson, meanwhile, won his Bellator MMA debut last year against Javy Ayala, going the distance. Both men were capable of knocking fighters out, but could Mitrione put the iron-chinned Nelson to sleep? Could he avoid the punishing right hand of ‘Big Country?’ And would fans see Nelson’s solid ground game?
As the action kicked off, Nelson fired off an overhand early that missed. Nelson looked like he was thinking takedown, but Mitrione easily avoided that. Mitrione was able to use his reach to keep Nelson outside, then launch a flurry off a takedown attempt as Nelson covered up. Mitrone landed a leg kick that seemed to hurt Nelson. On the feet, ‘Meathead’ was getting the better of Nelson with lead uppercuts, but Nelson scored a takedown with ninety seconds or so to go. He moved to side control, but wasn’t able to score much damage.
Round two had the pair swinging away once more. Mitrione was again working in leg kicks, to great effect. Mitrone landed a hard uppercut, and Nelson was soon showing damage on his lead leg. Nelson then landed a pair of shots but was showing some damage by the eye. Mitrione went upstairs with a kick then went to the body. Once again, in the final ninety seconds or so, Nelson scored the takedown. This time, he scooped Mitrione up, slamming him down. But again, he was unable to make much happen when on top.
Nelson pushed the action early in the third, looking to set up a takedown off strikes. Mitrione showed excellent movement, and Nelson went high with a kick. This time around, Nelson scored the takedown earlier, with over three minutes to go. Then, Nelson made things interesting. Getting Mitrione into a crucifix, he rained down short punches and elbows. He then moved for a kimura, but that allowed Mitrione to escape. Nelson took him right back down, however, adding in a few more shots before the final bell. It was a dominant round for Nelson, but with Mitrione likely taking the first two, the question was how the judges would see it. In the end, one judge gave Nelson a 10-8 in the third, but the other two saw it for Mitrione. He was awarded the win by majority decision, to the displeasure of the crowd. That meant it was Matt Mitrione moving ahead in the Grand Prix.
Matt Mitrione def. Roy Nelson by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)