What universe are we living in when The Ultimate Fighter 10 quarterfinalist Matt Mitrione (11-5) is a betting odds favorite to defeat “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (36-4)? Just what the hell is going on?
Fedor and Mitrione are set to clash in the Bellator 172 main event on Feb. 18 in San Jose. The event will broadcast live on Spike.
Oddsmakers such as 5dimes, Pinnacle, Bovada, SportBet and others all have Mitrione the favorite with the average betting line currently at around +125 for Fedor and -145 for Mitrione. SportsInt actually has Mitrione at -175 and Fedor at +135. Is this pure lunacy folks, or has “Meathead” actually earned his stripes to be considered the favorite over the 40-year-old legend?
Let’s take a closer look, shall we.
Following a trio of knockout wins over Shawn Jordan, Derrick Lewis and Gabriel Gonzaga inside the UFC Octagon in 2014, Mitrione was submitted by Ben Rothwell in June 2015, then TKO’d by Travis Browne in January of last year. He later signed with Bellator and has gone 2-0 in the organization. In June of last year he knocked out Carl Seumanutafa and in July he TKO’d Oli Thompson. And while those wins are credible enough, they certainly don’t match the status of “The Last Emperor”. However, Mitrione packs a punch and has finished 10 of his 11 wins by knockout — coincidentally, that’s the same amount of people Fedor has knocked out in his 36 wins.
So, what has Fedor been up to anyway?
The former Pride Heavyweight Champion has been on a tear since that trio of losses in the Strikeforce cage back in 2010-2011. His wins since then include a decision over Jeff Monson, KO’s over Satoshi Ishii and Pedro Rizzo, a submission due to punches over Jaideep Singh and a majority decision over Fabio Maldonado. And while this recent winning streak looks impressive on paper, let’s dig a little deeper.
For starters, Fedor had retired after the Rizzo fight in June 2012 and didn’t return until he fought Jaideep Singh in Rizin on Dec. 31, 2015. Two things. That fight was in Japan on New Year’s Eve and Singh was a kickboxer with only two MMA fights under his belt when they fought. It was a gift opponent, no doubt about it. Now in Fedor’s most recent fight when he was awarded a majority decision over UFC vet Fabio Maldonado at EFN 50 in June 2016, it should be noted the fight took place in St. Petersburg, Russia. It should also be noted Maldonado pretty much had Fedor out on his feet doing the stanky leg and the decision was HIGHLY controversial. In other words pretty much no one though Fedor deserved to win that fight.
Mitrione vs. Fedor is actually a pretty fun matchup and should be a good test to see where both fighters are in their careers. Fedor has even revived his Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory for his comeback for his old boss Scott Coker.
So back to the original question. Should Mitrione really be considered the odds favorite against the most beloved heavyweight MMA fighter of all time? As hard as it is to believe, and as much as it pains me to type these words, the answer is probably yes.