BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Matt Mitrione had trouble holding onto his mouthpiece on Saturday, losing the protective piece four separate times. After the final time, Sergei Kharitonov separated Mitrione from consciousness.
Kharitonov (30-7, 2 NC) invested in the body early and used his thunderous strikes to brutally finish Mitrione late in a second-round TKO at Webster Bank Arena. The heavyweight main event headlined a wild Bellator 225 card which featured early finishes in all 14 bouts on the card.
The inability of Mitrione (13-7, 1 NC) to hold onto his mouthpiece seemed to mess with him mentally, including the third time late in Round 1 when the southpaw screamed expletives in frustration. But the bizarre sequence had nothing on the first meeting between the two heavyweights in February when a kick to the groin just 15 seconds in by Mitrione brought a disappointing end to their Bellator 215 main event. The 41-year-old Mitrione had fun with the awkward ending to their first bout when he playfully tapped the protective cup of Kharitonov with his gloves during Saturday’s referee instructions in the center of the game.
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Mitrione, a UFC veteran and former NFL lineman, found some success in the early going by punching from the clinch and connecting with inside leg strikes. But Kharitonov, the stalking Russian, worked his way back in behind a stiff jab and a steady barrage to the body.
Both fighters finished the opening round with obvious swelling and red blotches on their faces after some exciting two-way action; however, the more Mitrione’s inability to hold onto his mouthpiece became a running theme, the harder it was for him to keep his focus.
Kharitonov, 39, ate a hard right hand in Round 2 as he simultaneously connected with a looping left hook that once again sent Mitrione’s mouthpiece flying. As Mitrione partially turned his head in a mix of frustration and confusion, Kharitonov took advantage by stinging him with a vicious right uppercut. Just as Mitrione was falling backwards, Kharitonov followed up with a flush knee to the face that knocked Mitrione out. Kharitonov followed up with short strikes just as referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to wave off the fight.