Bantamweight Nikita Mikhailov Improves to 9-1 at Bellator 273

At an event that saw several prospects earn impressive wins, bantamweight Nikita Mikhailov put on arguably the most complete performance of the prelims with his victory over Blaine Shutt at Bellator 273.

It didn’t take long for Mikhailov to take control of the fight, as he dropped Shutt with the first straight right he threw and then immediately followed the American to the canvas. Shutt attempted a single-leg takedown before finally standing and getting a body lock, but an inside trip from Mikhailov put the Russian on top in Shutt’s full guard. Aside from a brief attempt to get up from Shutt late, Mikhailov was able to spend the rest of the round on top landing punches to Shutt’s head and body.

The two fighters exchanged high kicks to start the second round before a slow-paced first minute on the feet, until Shutt blitzed in and Mikhailov timed a double-leg takedown. Shutt grabbed ahold of the Russian’s neck on the way down and briefly threatened a choke, but Mikhailov was able to stand up to break Shutt guard before slamming him to the mat and eventually get his head free. Mikhailov returned to his same approach from the first-round with strong top control, and also mixed in some elbows and shoulder strikes when he was able to posture up in Shutt’s guard.

Shutt started the third round with a clear sense of urgency and pressured Mikhailov immediately, but it didn’t take long before another well-timed double-leg returned them to the mat. Mikhailov resumed the strategy that had won him the two previous rounds, but referee Mike Beltran decided to stand the two men up halfway through the third. “The Shuttdown” tried to press forward again and even pointed down to the canvas in an effort to get Mikhailov to strike with him as the two men circled back to the center of the cage. The next exchange saw Mikhailov switch to southpaw as Shutt came forward, which set up a counter-left hook that dropped the American once again. Mikhailov pressed his advantage and briefly ended up in half guard before Shutt turned to his knees and covered up, which allowed the Russian to keep landing punches until the referee stepped in to end it.

Mikhailov improved to 9-1 overall in his career, and is now 2-0 in Bellator following this win and the unanimous decision he earned over Brian Moore in his promotional debut last October. The twenty-three year old is now on a five-fight win streak that started in back in 2017 when he was fighting for Fight Nights Global.

While other prospects on this card scored notable victories of their own with early finishes, longer fights are often more valuable for providing a complete profile of a fighter’s skills and potential. Mikhailov’s grappling abilities were clearly on display for the majority of this bout, and he showed flashes of his power on the feet with the knockdowns he scored in the first and third rounds.

This matchup with Shutt was a probably a step down in competition compared to his debut against Brian Moore, but at only twenty-three years old and with the legendary Fedor Emelianenko in his corner, Nikita Mikhailov clearly has a bright future as part of Bellator’s bantamweight division