Bellator 269 takes place on October 23, featuring a main event between heavyweight powerhouses Fedor Emelianenko and Tim Johnson. The fight will determine who remains in the title picture and takes place in Moscow, Russia, making it a homecoming for Fedor.
Along with Emelianenko are plenty other Russian talent, including former UFC athlete Rustam Khalibov. But the highest touted on the list is a man by the name of Usman Nurmagomedov. Many know him as the cousin of all-time great, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Currently 13-0, Usman is scheduled to open the main card with Finland’s Patrik Pietila, a 19 fight veteran with experience under the Bellator banner.
Pietila spoke to The Scrap about his opponent, his time spent in Bellator and competing in Russia.
“Man it feels great to fight in Bellator! You know, when I started training MMA back in 2012 just for staying in good shape I never could not have imagined that I will be on main-card in Bellator,” exclaimed Pietila, happy to call himself a member of one of the worlds largest MMA organizations.
Making his promotional debut in 2019, Pietila came from up short against Ryan Roddy in a competitive three-round affair. While he would lose a unanimous decision, he remained optimistic, using the lessons learned to boost his evolution as a martial artist. And after two years of inactivity, fans can expect to see an entirely different athlete.
“The fight with Roddy didn’t go as it should. I still feel like I won 2 first rounds and the 3rd round was Roddy’s. But after that I have [focused on] staying in shape, and the biggest evolution has been in mindset. Now I try to win every moment in every round so if the fight goes to scorecard I will get the win, 100%.”
With this rejuvenated mindset, Pietila’s focused on his biggest challenge to date – undefeated lightweight Usman Nurmagomedov. If competing against Usman wasn’t a solid enough task, the fight is set to take place in Moscow, Russia, as close to home it will get for the surging prospect. With the odds and crowd against him, the Finnish veteran is prepared for a hostile outing. Yet the exposure and opportunity presented to him on Bellator’s main card is one he cannot pass up.
“For me this is huge opporturnity. And I don’t think the event cant get much bigger than this one, so im pretty excited about this fight. Usman is a greatly skilled fighter so it’s going to be great fight for MMA fans!”
“It doesn’t really matter where I’m fighting – I feel like I dont get any more pressure from it. I even get more hype [for a] fight going in there as the ‘bad guy’ in blue corner. And when I’m in blue corner, I feel like I need prove myself more, so it works better for me.”
“I need to work hard and keep pushing him. I know he is really good in standup and wrestling but everyone makes mistakes when they are tired. So I need to push him all the time and wait for the counters to open for me.”
If successful on October 23, Pietila will instantly boost his standings in the MMA world. Not only will he catapult up the Bellator rankings, but big fights will present themselves. Some against names that have inspired him since he was solely a spectator.
When asked about who he’d like to face, one name immediately came to mind.
“When I started back in 2012 it was the same time I started to watch MMA, so there is one name in Bellator I would like to fight and it’s Benson Henderson. I have been watching his fights [for years] and I am big fan of his, so it would be awesome to fight him one day.”