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The bright lights of the Bellator cage will shine down on a host of heavyweights as the big men of the roster take center stage at Bellator 225 in Bridgeport, Conn.
The five-fight main card features three heavyweight matchups, including the main event rematch between Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov, while the 11-bout preliminary card includes the likes of Austin Vanderford, Ricky Bandejas and Nick Newell making his promotional debut.
Here are four burning questions heading into Saturday night’s event:
Which heavyweight will stake claim to a title shot next?
Bellator 225 is a showcase of the promotion’s big men, with the result of the top two bouts of the night likely to shape the heavyweight title picture for the months ahead.
Mitrione (13-6 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) and Kharitonov (29-7 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) face off in the main event in a rerun of their Bellator 215 bout back in February. On that night, a misplaced inside leg kick from Mitrione landed squarely, and powerfully, in Kharitonov’s cup, ending their first meeting as a no contest after just 15 seconds.
Now the two heavyweight big hitters will meet again, with the winner likely to find himself in pole position to face the winner of next mont’s Bellator 226 title fight between champion Ryan Bader and Cheick Kongo.
But before Mitrione and Kharitonov throw down in the main event, fellow heavyweights Vitaly Minakov and Javy Ayala have a chance to steal the show in the co-main event. Former Bellator champ Minakov (21-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) suffered his first career loss last time out in a disappointing display against Kongo and will be determined to make amends with a big win against Ayala (11-7 MMA, 6-4 BMMA).
But the big Russian will know that Ayala’s punch power warrants respect. Just ask Minakov’s fellow countryman, Kharitonov, who was starched with one swing of Ayala’s right hand in just 16 seconds at Bellator 163 back in 2016.
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