Bellator’s heavyweight division is ready to roll in 2019.
Tuesday, the promotion announced Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov will headline an event on Feb. 15, while a rematch between Cheick Kongo and former Bellator champion Vitaly Minakov will take place that next evening.
Both events are scheduled for the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Per the release, the winner of the Kongo-Minakov rematch will go on to fight either Fedor Emelianenko or Ryan Bader. The two men are currently set to compete in the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix for the vacant heavyweight title on Jan. 26 and it seems officials are already lining the winner of that bout up for their first title defense.
A previously reported Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix opening-round bout between rivals Michael Page (13-0) and Paul Daley (40-16-2) was also made official for the main event of the Feb. 16 show.
Mitrione (13-6) is coming off of an unsuccessful bid to win the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix. After avenging a UFC loss to Roy Nelson in the quarterfinals via majority decision, Mitrione dropped a lopsided unanimous decision to Bader at Bellator 207 in October. It was his first loss in five fights since signing with Bellator two years ago.
Since losing to Josh Barnett at a Strikeforce show in 2011, Kharitonov has won 10 of his past 11 fights (excluding one no-contest), with his only loss coming to Javy Ayala at Bellator 163. At Bellator 207, Kharitonov defeated Nelson via first-round KO to improve his pro record to 28-6 (1 NC).
Kongo (29-10-2) and Minakov (21-0) first fought at Bellator 115 in April 2014. At the time, Minakov was the Bellator heavyweight champion and he would defeat Kongo by unanimous decision to record his first and only title defense. Minakov proceeded to compete in Russia and was eventually stripped of his Bellator title in May 2016. This past August, Minakov signed a new deal with the promotion.
The Feb. 15 show will air on the Paramount Network and stream live on DAZN, while the Feb. 16 show will stream exclusively on DAZN with preliminary action available on Bellator.com and the Bellator app.