There was a trio of dramatic finishes on the bounce at Bellator NYC on Saturday night in New York. Highly-touted prospect Aaron Pico was unexpectedly submitted in mere seconds by Zach Freeman, Michael Chandler lost his Bellator lightweight title due to injury shortly after dropping Brent Primus, and then Fedor Emelianenko was knocked out in brutal fashion moments after he and Matt Mitrione had dropped each other simultaneously.
The unbelievable finishing sequence came just over a minute into the opening round of the heavyweight contest, which served as the co-main event of Bellator’s second ever Pay-per-view offering. Both men stepped in with right hands at the exact same time and each shot landed flush. When the two men hit the canvas, Fedor ended up on his back, while Mitrione only landed on the seat of his shorts. This proved crucial, as Mitrione was able to scramble quickly to his knees and fire a vicious follow-up salvo that rendered Emelianenko completely unconscious.
From near DOUBLE KO to Matt Mitrione finishing legend Fedor Emelianenko with an early first round TKO #Bellator180
— Sports Degens (@TheSportsDegens) June 25, 2017
Emelianenko, who has long been considered the greatest heavyweight of all time, has never found the United States to be a happy hunting ground. The Russian has only suffered five defeats in his storied 17-year pro career and four of them have occurred stateside. In 2010/2011, ‘The Last Emperor’ lost three consecutive fights to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson in the Strikeforce promotion. He subsequently rebounded, putting three wins together in Russia and Japan but decided to retire on a high in 2012.
Emelianenko returned on the eve of 2016 however, easily stopping Jaideep Singh in Japan. Things got tougher for Fedor, though. In June of last year, he struggled desperately with and took a torrent of abuse from former UFC light-heavyweight Fabio Maldonado over three rounds. He managed to come away with a decision win, but it was a very controversial one and it was clear that Emelianenko would not be a force going forward.
Considering how much punishment he took against Maldonado and the severity of his knockout loss to Mitrione tonight, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Fedor head back into retirement.
This was Mitrione’s third straight stoppage win since joining Bellator MMA from the UFC last year and the most significant of his career so far. He is likely to move into a fight for the vacant Bellator heavyweight title.