Sergei Kharitonov returns to the Bellator cage for the first time since 2019 this Friday.
In the main event of Bellator 265, the Russian veteran takes on fellow long-standing big man Cheick Kongo. The pair have four full decades of MMA experience between them.
“I’m very happy that Bellator gave me a third ranked opponent,” Kharitonov told Cageside Press during Wednesday’s media day. “I’m very excited to be back, and I’m looking forward to come back for the title.”
You read that correctly. Kharitonov has the title in mind, after spending the early part of his career with the promotion seemingly as a mercenary.
“Yes of course, that’s why I’m here. I’m here to win, and come after the title,” he said Wednesday. He’ll enter the fight off two straight wins, albeit outside the promotion. Both saw him win regional titles.
This Friday, Kharitonov is expecting a “dirty fight” where Kongo leans him up against the cage. Still, he’s ready for anything — and at 41, has seen it all. Yet despite his age, Sergei Kharitonov will be the younger fighter in the cage on Friday. Opponent Kongo is the oldest athlete on the promotion’s roster at 46.
“I’m at that point of my life where I don’t know how long I’m going to compete for,” Kharitonov said on the age front. But “The Paratrooper” does believe he can continue to compete at a high level for a while longer. “Cheick Kongo is a great example. He’s 46, I’m 41. He’s a great example that heavyweights can fight until they’re 50. So I have a good amount of plans, and I’m looking to go on nicely until I’m 50 years old.”
Watch the full Bellator 265 media day appearance from Sergei Kharitonov above. The event takes place this Friday, August 20 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.