Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione had always been on friendly terms dating back to their days on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” where the former beat the latter in the finals.
But things took an ugly turn after Mitrione beat Nelson by majority decision at Bellator 194 in February to advance to the semifinals in the heavyweight grand prix. After the fight, Mitrione blasted Nelson for what he perceived to be illegal moves to maintain top position that allowed him to almost finish the former NFL player. Mitrione followed up those comments by calling Nelson a “cheater” and a “dirtbag.”
Nelson, who fights Sergei Kharitonov in the co-main event of Friday’s Bellator 207, heard the comments and wasn’t too surprised to hear those words from Mitrione.
“Nothing Matt says really surprises me to be quite honest,” Nelson told Sporting News. “I tried to talk to him in the back and he completely ignored me. Then he goes to the media and says that I cheated in the fight, which isn’t the case whatsoever. I had him in top position and was pounding him out. He wasn’t defending himself and I still can’t figure out why (referee for the fight) Dan Miragliotta didn’t stop the fight. I would love to punch Matt in right in the face if given the opportunity. I’ve been in this sport for 14 years and no one has ever said that about me. He’s just butt hurt because he knows the fight should have been stopped and only advanced because of the referee.”
The 42-year-old then paused for a short moment and reflected on when things were good with Mitrione.
“This guy used to call me before his fights and ask me for advice on how to go about beating these guys,” Nelson said. “I had no problem helping him out considering he had no fight experience since he started his pro career on TUF. I was a mentor to Matt and felt like we were friends.”
Mitrione headlines Bellator 207 against Ryan Bader on Friday night. The winner advances to the finals to face the winner of Chael Sonnen vs. Fedor Emelianenko on Saturday at Bellator 208. Nelson is an alternate in the tournament, so if anyone gets injured along the way, “Big Country” would be inserted into the field. While he doesn’t want the remaining participants to get injured, Nelson would love to get another shot at Mitrione.
“The only time I want to be around Matt is in the cage,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to be in the same room as him or I will punch him. I already expressed my desire to the Bellator higher-ups. Look, Fedor and Kharitonov don’t even want to be near each other and that animosity has gone on for around 15 years. I lose no sleep in not talking to Matt and I never will.”