Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson have been fairly friendly ever since being castmates on The Ultimate Fighter 10 nine years ago. Even after they fought and Nelson knocked out Mitrione in 2012.
Those good feelings have come to an end, Mitrione told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
Mitrione beat Nelson by majority decision in the main event of Bellator 194 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut to advance to the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix tournament. Mitrione won the first two rounds on all the judges’ cards, while Nelson won the third. One judge, Dave Tirelli, scored the third 10-8 for Nelson, making the fight a draw on his card.
During that time of Nelson’s dominance — he held a prolong mounted crucifix and was raining down blows — Mitrione said his opponent was gaming the system. Nelson, Mitrione said, had his toe in the cage and was using it for leverage to hold the position and continue dropping strikes as Mitrione tried to get out.
Mitrione said he has a sweep from that position that he worked on in training camp. He takes his left heel and brings it across Nelson’s right calf, then squeezes his knees together. Mitrione did that with about 1:54 left in the third round and that’s when it appears Nelson uses the cage for help, potentially illegally.
“Roy then took his right big toe and lifted his foot off the ground and stuck it inside the fence,” Mitrione said. “And then for 45 seconds — or 40 seconds or so — inside of that round when he was on top of me punching me or elbowing me, he was cheating. He had all this leverage, because he was pushing off the fence driving into me.”
At one point, referee Dan Miragliotta did warn Nelson after being prompted by Mitrione. But then Nelson started landing more shots to Mitrione’s head and Miragliotta was focused on that, Mitrione said.
Nelson’s willingness to work outside the rules has soured him big time on “Big County,” Mitrione said.
“For Roy to grandstand, to be like, ‘Oh, I’m full of integrity, I don’t cheat, I don’t steroids or anything else, blah blah blah,’ and then when the fight comes down to it, to say you need to win, because you lost the first two rounds, then you start to cheat just so you can win?” Mitrione said. “That’s garbage, man. You’re a grandstanding dude with false integrity and I’ve got nothing for it. And if you guys think I’m being a sore winner, just go back and watch the film.”
Mitrione, 39, said he went to Nelson after the fight backstage to congratulate him on a good fight and being a tough opponent. Nelson wasn’t interested in having a nice talk, Mitrione said. Mitrione described Nelson’s response — and his team’s response — as “sideways.”
“Old boy has got issues,” Mitrione said. “He’s got character and quality issues. I don’t like Roy Nelson. He’s not my dude anymore. I have no plans to be cool with him. If you’re gonna cheat to try and beat me, you’re a dirtbag and I’ve got no respect for you. So I’ve lost all juice for Roy. All of it.”
Mitrione (13-5) said he still gave Nelson props backstage and on social media because of how “incredibly tough” he was, eating punches in the first two rounds and still coming forward. Mitrione will now meet the winner of a May first-round fight between Ryan Bader and Nelson’s good friend Muhammed Lawal in the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
Though it was a majority decision, Mitrione said he considers it a dominant victory considering the circumstances.
“What I’m saying is, for the time that he was supposedly winning that fight, for the second half of the third round, he was cheating,” Mitrione said. “So, I don’t consider it at all. I think I smoked him unanimously and I think he’s a cheater. So I lost all respect for him and I’m not gonna be cool with Roy ever going forward again. That’s sideways and bogus.”