On Presidents Day Weekend, Bellator is bringing the last Emperor out to fight for our amusement along with some ex-UFC fighters against top Bellator fighters. Bellator 172 is going down February 18 in San Jose, California.

Heavyweight

Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione

The greatest heavyweight of all time is back on US television since losing three in a row when Strikeforce was a thing. Since then, Fedor has racked up 5 wins but his latest was overturned to a no contest. Just keep in mind that fight was in Russia and was very fixed. Even then, that Russian commission had to overturn the fight.

At 40 years old, it is hard to imagine the last emperor has much left to give. With a lifetime of combat experience from winning multiple combat sambo and MMA competitions, he is still a tricky guy for anyone. Not super fast anymore but still has outstanding timing with his right hand.

If this fight goes to the ground, I would give Fedor the advantage. It will be very interesting to see if either take the fight to the ground.

Mitrione is a two-fight veteran in the Bellator cage with the rest of his career taking place in the UFC. A former professional football player, Matt is super athletic despite his frame and will surely be the faster man in this fight. He has really developed a smooth striking style you don’t find in many heavyweights being very light on his feet sliding in and out of combinations.

This can very well be the coming out party Matt needs to be considered an elite fighter.

Prediction: Matt by TKO in the second


Lightweight

Josh Thomson vs. Patricky Freire

Josh is coming back after taking some time to heal up and enjoy himself. Thompson has been an elite lightweight for a long time. Training out of AKA, he has some slick kickboxing skills KOing Nate Diaz plus some very solid grappling chops. I see him being the all around better fighter. The X-factor is the long layoff and how well has he healed up his injuries.

Patricky is basically a slightly larger version of his brother but with a glorious porn stache. An aggressive Muay Thai fighter with big power and a black belt in BJJ. He is coming off an unsuccessful title challenge getting KTFO in the first round to current champ, Michael Chandler.

Still a tough fight. As long as Thompson comes in shape, this should be his fight to lose.

Prediction: Thompson by decision


Heavyweight

Cheick Kongo vs. Oli Thompson

At 41 years old, Kongo is most likely on the tail end of his career even though he is on a 3 fight win streak. They were against guys he should have put away especially the split decision win over Vinicius Queiroz. He has strong fundamental meat and potatoes kickboxing with a really underrated wrestling game.

If their UFC careers are any indication of how this fight will go, Oli is in for a tough one. He is 17-9 overall but 0-2 in the UFC. Probably not a good sign he is coming off a loss to Matt Mitrione. He is a slugger from the UK with some solid power and tons of experience for being 4 years younger than his opponent. Tough to see a place he can win this fight outside of a hail mary punch.

Prediction: Kongo by decision


Welterweight

Josh Koscheck vs. Mauricio Alonso

It really blows my mind Josh Koscheck is still fighting. Once a solid wrestler with big power hands, he has done a great job evolving with the sport of MMA. As he gets older, he continues to slow down and become more chinny.

Alonso is a slightly above average fighter with a 12-7 record and most of his wins are by decision. I can’t say I have seen much tape on him even though he has one fight in Bellator.

Not a huge fan of Koscheck but should be able to squeak out a decision with his wrestling and high-level experience.

Prediction: Koscheck by decision

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