Matt Mitrione (T) (Jeff Vulgamore/Combat Press)

Bellator 207: Mitrione vs. Bader Preview and Predictions

The first of two events for Bellator MMA on the weekend heads to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Bellator 207’s main event pits Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader against Matt Mitrione in the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Bader won his quarterfinal fight against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal with a quick 15-second knockout. Mitrione went a different route in his quarterfinal fight with Roy Nelson. Mitrione squeaked by with a majority decision.

The co-headliner also takes place in the heavyweight division, but it’s a non-tournament bout. The aforementioned Nelson, in an attempt to rebound from his loss to Mitrione, meets Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov is also on the hunt to return to the win column after his fight against Anton Vyazigin was declared a no-contest.


In the welterweight division, UFC veteran Lorenz Larkin takes on Ion Pascu. The main card will also head to the lightweight division, where Carrington Banks faces Mandel Nallo and Kevin Ferguson Jr. tangles with Corey Browning.

The Bellator 207 preliminary card airs live on Friday, Oct. 12, on at 6:30 p.m. ET. The main card airs live on the Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET.

Now that Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader is finally meeting a full-fledged heavyweight opponent, Matt Mitrione, in the semifinals of the heavyweight tournament, can he still emerge with a win?

Mitrione and Bader are top picks to win this tournament. It’s a shame they have to meet this early, as it takes out a big chunk of talent from the tournament before we even get to the finals.

Bader can most certainly emerge victorious in this fight. He has shown time and time again that he is one of the best fighters on the Bellator roster and in the light heavyweight division in general. Granted, this contest takes place at heavyweight, but Bader’s wrestling is still something to hold in high regard. Mitrione will be a tough test for Bader, but the current Bellator light heavyweight champion took on Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the first part of this tournament and quickly knocked him out in the first round. Lawal has been great at heavyweight despite being smaller than most of his opponents. If Bader’s fight with Lawal is any indication, then the UFC veteran should succeed mightily.

Mitrione has been a great pickup for Bellator. He has added depth to the heavyweight division, which is something Bellator has struggled with for the entire existence of the promotion. Four fights in with Bellator, Mitrione has three knockouts and a perfect promotional record. This includes a victory over Fedor Emelianenko.

This fight should go the distance. Mitrione was able to withstand bombs from Roy Nelson over three rounds in the quarterfinals. Bader has power, but not at the same level as Nelson. Bader has a lot of avenues to win this fight, however, and his wrestling helps to extend his chances in the later rounds. Bader will indeed emerge with the victory.

Roy Nelson and Sergei Kharitonov meet in the co-headliner. How does this one end?

In pain.

It should end in a knockout, and it just depends on which fighter is able to hit the button first. Nelson has a lot of power in his overhand right, but this is the entirety of Nelson’s game lately. He just wings the overhand right and hope it lands. Even with his jiu-jitsu background, Nelson relies heavily on just the one shot.

Kharitonov has a kickboxing background that gives him the edge in this fight. His striking is much more diverse than that of his opponent. However, he hasn’t really faced anyone tough in a very long time. Kharitonov last fought in Bellator over a year ago in a two-fight stint. During that time, he went 1-1. The loss came against Javy Ayala, who was able to land a huge knockout shot in under 20 seconds. This doesn’t bode well against someone like Nelson, who not only has knockout power, but also a chin that can take abuse. Nelson’s chin has deteriorated a little in the past few years, but it’s still able to absorb an immense amount of punishment.

This is a toss-up fight, but Nelson’s knockout power is a difference-maker, especially with Kharitonov’s loss to Ayala still fresh in our memory.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Lorenz Larkin and Ion Pascu.

Let’s give this fight some recognition as an alternate bout for Bellator’s other tournament, which takes place in the welterweight division. Larkin left the UFC and became a big acquisition for Bellator. He went on to lose his next two fights to Paul Daley and Douglas Lima. Larkin finally got his first win in Bellator against Fernando Gonzalez by unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Pascu is coming back to Bellator after a win under the BAMMA banner against Alex Lahore.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Main Card (Paramount Network, 9 p.m. ET)
HW Tournament Semifinal: Matt Mitrione vs. Ryan Bader Bader
HW: Roy Nelson vs. Sergei Kharitonov Nelson
WW Tournament Alternate: Lorenz Larkin vs. Ion Pascu Larkin
LW: Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. vs. Corey Browning Ferguson Jr.
LW: Carrington Banks vs. Mandel Nallo Banks
Preliminary Card (, 6:30 p.m. ET)
Women’s FlyW: Kristi Lopez vs. Sarah Click Lopez
Catchweight (177 pounds): Andre Fialho vs. Javier Torres Fialho
Women’s FlyW: Lisa Blaine vs. Alexandra Ballou Blaine
LW: Nicholas Giulietti vs. Alex Ortiz Ortiz
MW: Tim Caron vs. Vinicius de Jesus Caron
Women’s FW: Sinead Kavanagh vs. Janay Harding Kavanagh
WW: Kastroit Xhema vs. Pat Casey Casey
BW: Mike Kimbel vs. Alex Potts Potts
Catchweight: Sean Lally vs. Kemran Lachinov Lachinov