Matt Mitrione nearly got knocked out in his Bellator debut last Friday night in St. Louis, but the fight was allowed to continue. He then came back to stop Carl Seumanutafa himself just minutes later, and it was then announced in the cage that he’d be returning on July 16 to fight Oli Thompson at Bellator 158 in London.
That announcement brought immediate concerns over his health given the flash knockdown he suffered early in the fight. Those concerns aren’t likely to die down even as Bellator announced Friday that Mitrione had “cleared medical testing” to make the fight official.
The 37-year-old Mitrione, a former NFL player, fought his entire MMA career in the UFC prior to last week’s Bellator debut, going 9-5 over 14 fights from 2009 to January of this year. All but one of his victories has come by (T)KO.
England’s Thompson, who made two appearances in the UFC himself back in 2012, is riding a five-fight winning streak into his own Bellator debut. 17-8 overall in his career, the 36-year-old has stopped 13 of his opponents.
Bellator 158 will air on Spike from the O2 Arena, headlined by the welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Douglas Lima.
Penick’s Analysis: “Cleared” or not, it just seems extremely ill-advised for a fighter who suffered a flash knockdown (and a shot which arguably should have stopped that fight) to fight again just three weeks later. There’s additional risk of getting hurt even worse as that type of head damage can be compounded if multiple shots like that happen in close proximity to one another. Bellator hasn’t seemed to show much legitimate concern over fighter health with the matchups and fighters they’ve booked so far, so it’s not surprising that this is going on as planned, but these bookings deserve further scrutiny.
[Photo (c) Bob DeChiara via USA Today Sports]
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