Mitrione: My head is on the chopping block
Former NFL defensive tackle Matt Mitrione entered TUF with no professional fight experience. and then won five in a row in the UFC. He faltered in the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, losing two in a row, to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson.
Mitrione fights Philip De Fries on April 6 on UFC on FUEL TV 9: Gustafsson vs. Mousasi in Sweden, and he acknowledges that his career could be on the line.
“Oh, for sure there is pressure and my head is definitely on the chopping block here,”said Mitrione. “I don’t know if it will get cut off or not, or the UFC will pull a Dan Hardy and keep me around, but if I lose then I’m definitely subject to being cut. And I acknowledge that.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really affect me because in the UFC you can have one bad fight and get axed out.
“That is not any additional pressure but it is a realization that I could get cut if I lose. I pride myself with being as honest with myself as possible, and this is a situation where there definitely is peril if I lose this fight. But I’m not going to lose, so I’m not worried about it.
“There are some things I look forward to, and this fight is definitely one of them. My head is on the chopping block, there is a little bit of pressure on externally, and let’s go out there and see what I got. Let’s go out there and see what happens, baby.
“I’m no spring chicken and everybody knows that. I started late in the game and I’ve been in the UFC for three and a half years now; it’s time for me to do something. I have seven fights under my belt and it’s sink or swim now. It’s s— or get off the pot. It’s go time right now and either I do it or I don’t.”
“From the way it looks, Phil doesn’t have the best chin in the world. I have pretty heavy hands and I’m not afraid to stand in the pocket and trade, and I think from the way it looks to most people, he matches up poorly against me and I match up very well against him.
“But in that same breath, Phil has some takedowns and he is a solid grappler. I feel people will say if the fight goes to the ground, I’ll be in trouble, so it’s vice versa for both of us in a sense. But honestly, I feel my ground game is pretty damn good; I just never show it.
“It is just a matter of time before I get in a spot where I’m grappling during a fight and showing my ground-and-pound, top control and everything else. I’m excited about it.
“I made a couple of mistakes in my fight against Roy Nelson. I stopped using my feet, stopped moving around, and said screw it, I’ll just trade off with Roy. I wasn’t afraid of his power and thought f— it, let’s just see what happens. But the biggest mistake I made was that I got too far over on my front leg and I flared my elbow out on my straight left.
“Roy saw that a couple times and it was something they had practiced quite a bit. He knew I was expecting his overhand right and when I flared out my elbow and had my eyebrow tucked into my bicep; he threw an uppercut.
“It was something I never saw coming and it was because I telegraphed what I did and put too much weight forward. If I would have put my weight on my back foot, like I’m always supposed to, by the time I would have stepped into my punch, his punch would have been six or seven inches short of my face. He never would have thrown it, but I messed up.
“It is things like that I learn the most from. It sucks to say it but you have to lose in order to learn some times. You just have to. If you win, you think you are doing everything right but if you lose, then you see all the dumb s— you do. It sucks but I feel like my fight I.Q. has really increased and I feel like I’ve become a more intelligent fighter because of what happened.
“I would like to think this next fight is a great opportunity to show that progression but Phil could come out there and do something that throws me for a loop. He could do some things I’ve never seen before, put me in a bad spot and win the fight. You never know…”