That is one big baby.
From the NFL, to the corporate world, to mixed martial arts, Matt Mitrione has definitely not been one to shy away from trying anything new.
"Meathead" first burst onto the MMA scene in 2009 as a member of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 10. Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson garnered all the initial buzz and attention for that season, but what made Matt stand out from all the other past participants on TUF, was the fact that Mitrione had never had an amateur, much less a pro MMA bout under his belt.
What's even more impressive is that "Meathead" claims he had only been training mixed martial arts for six months prior to earning a slot on TUF.
Fast forward two years later and Matt Mitrione has five pro MMA bouts to his credit, all wins, all in the UFC and is co-headlining UFC 137 in a little under a week. Not bad for a guy who considers himself a "baby" in MMA.
Speaking via his blog for sportsnet.ca, Mitrione talks about his development from an ex NFL player, to life in the corporate world, to becoming one of the best upcoming heavyweights in the UFC.
"Most people would be thankful to have the opportunity to excel at one sport in their lifetime, but I've been lucky enough to have a stab at two of them. I played in the NFL for the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. I'm 33 years of age now, but feel like a baby in mixed martial arts. I'm so incredibly blessed to be doing what I am doing right now, coming off a career in the NFL. I didn't even jump straight from the NFL into the UFC, either. I had a two-year hiatus in corporate America."
With only five MMA bouts to his credit, "Meathead" feels he still has plenty of room for growth.
"I have so much more time to train and improve as a mixed martial artist now, as opposed to when I first started out in '09. This is a full-time job and passion for me now, and I truly believe I am reaping the benefits. I travel to quite a few gyms across America now, as I feel it's important to find the right type of training and the environment that best suits me. I know that time isn't on my side and I know that I can't wait years and years to mature and develop as a mixed martial artist. I need to make my move now and become the best possible fighter I can be at this stage in my life. "
Mitrione shared a story in which UFC Hall of Famer and former UFC heavy and light heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, put a beating on him that he says was the best thing that happened for his career.
"I remember one day Randy beating the living s--- out of me on the ground and yelling at me in the process. He was saying, "Look, kid, you're supposed to have a lot of potential, and one day you might be something, but right now you're on your back getting your ass kicked. Unless you figure out a way of changing that, you're going nowhere."
"Meathead" also has one last message for Chieck Kongo.
"If I happen to take you down and have my way with you on the ground on Saturday, don't blame me, blame Randy Couture. Also, if I happen to shout sweet nothings in your ear in the process, again, blame "Captain America," not me. It's all his doing"
Matt Mitrione will look to pass his toughest test of his young MMA career, as he takes on the always dangerous striker Chieck Kongo this weekend in the co-main event for UFC 137 in Las Vegas.
Should "Meathead" be successful this weekend, is it safe to say the self-proclaimed "baby" in MMA is knocking at the door of a title shot, or does he still have plenty of work to do before consideration?