Photo: Bellator MMA
Matt Mitrione advanced in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament Friday night, downing Roy Nelson via majority decision at Bellator 194 at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena.
He moves on to face the winner of the May Ryan Bader vs. King Mo quarterfinal while Chael Sonnen awaits the winner of the April Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir fight.
Mitrione came out strong and dominated the first two rounds, but gassed out in the third. Nelson took him down early in the round and eventually moved into a crucifix position, doing a lot of ground and pound damage. Referee Dan Miragliotta looked like he might be close to stopping it, but allowed Mitrione the chance to escape which he eventually did. Mitrione was able to get to his feet, only to be taken down again for the duration of the round.
Sonnen, acting as color commentator for the night, speculated that it may have been enough to earn Nelson a 10-8 round, which would've made the fight a draw and an "overtime" fourth round because it was a tournament match. However, only one judge saw it that way while the other gaves 29-28 scores for Mitrione.
Former referee and sometimes judge John McCarthy was a desk analyst for the show and he said that he would've been very close to ruling the third round a 10-8 for Nelson and the fight a draw, adding that he would have to have paid more attention to see how much damage the ground strikes were doing. McCarthy said that Nelson had two of the three "Ds" (domination, duration, damage) required for a 10-8.
The fight was a rematch from December 2012 in the UFC's TUF 16 finale show where Mitrione was knocked out in the first round.
Also on the show:
- Patricky Pitbull scored a first round KO win over Derek Campos to become the no. 1 contender to lightweight champion Brett Primus.
- Heather Hardy scored a somewhat questionable decision win over Ana Julaton in a boring fight.
- Fedor protege Vadim Nemkov used leg kicks to earn a third round TKO win over former light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary in a fight reminiscent of the Jose Aldo-Urijah Faber WEC fight where Aldo destroyed Faber's leg.
- In the opener, prospect Taiwan "Air" Claxton got a second round TKO win over winless Jose Perez in a showcase bout.