Matt Mitrione, weddings and Ryan Bader: An uneasy relationship

STAMFORD, Conn. – Ready for a rematch with tough Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov, Matt Mitrione is also fighting the disappointment of being a step back in the race.

A loss to current two-division champion Ryan Bader delayed Mitrione’s dream of winning the Bellator heavyweight title. Then an accidental groin strike causing a no-contest in their first fight set up a Kharitonov rematch as Bader readies to defend his title against Cheick Kongo.

“Once again, I’m the bridesmaid, and I put myself in a position to become the bride, and Bader put his wedding day on my wedding day,” Mirione told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “He beat me. I can’t get salty about it. It is what it is. I can have my own feelings about it.”

On a personal level, Mitrione stresses he’s happy for Bader. He said the two are friends and talk on a regular basis. They’ve even talked about Bader’s upcoming fight with Kongo next month at Bellator 226. Mitrione doesn’t see Kongo getting the win.

That makes Mitrione happy for Bader on a personal level. On a professional one, he said, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

“I’m tired of going to weddings,” he said. “I want to be in the wedding.”

Mitrione figures he’s put himself in the best position to get Kharitonov in the rearview mirror, training with fighters just as big and as strong as the Russian. He still feels younger than his 41 years on the planet, even if he caught himself looking at his lines in the mirror.

But there’s the frustration of waiting, especially because Bader can potentially hold up the division. He wants Bellator to give him a title shot so he can at least know he’s next.

“Even if it’s a sloppy win, if it’s a great win, it doesn’t matter,” Mitrione said. “I don’t think there’s any conversation that can be had that I’m not in the next title fight. I don’t understand that.”

Mitrione said he isn’t even sure Bader will hang on to the belt, because, he said, Bader doesn’t even see himself as a heavyweight. So that might shorten the delay. And, of course, if Bader falls to Kongo, that will get him back in the title picture quick.

“I think he beats Kongo, and I think Kongo is a better fight for me,” Mitrione said. “So I hope Kongo wins.”

Mitrione said Bader’s wrestling skills make him a tough go for most of the guys in the heavyweight division. Until he can get the chance to show the world otherwise, he’s going to be in an awkward position.

“I’m happy for him,” he said. “I’m jealous. But I’m happy for him.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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