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UFC 113: Matt Mitrione will be fighting Kimbo Slice the man, not the hype


Matt Mitrione has been called a lot of things in his short time in the fight game. A whiner, a faker, a wannabe, and of course most notably... a meathead.

But come this Saturday night (May 8) at UFC 113 in Montreal, he's looking to add one more moniker to the list... a mixed martial artist.

The former NFL player has a rare opportunity in front of him to defeat a man who is more widely recognized than just about anybody in the sport. A man known for his persona far more than his fighting prowess.

That man is of course none other than Kimbo Slice.

Whether or not a win over Slice is impressive in the eyes of true fight fans, it's a win that will undoubtedly increase his name recognition. And at this point in his young MMA career, it's more than Mitrione can ask for.

Prior to his clash with the street brawler turned UFC fighter, Matt Mitrione spoke with Larry Pepe in's exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio about how he first got involved in the sport, taking on Kimbo Slice, and what life was like inside the TUF house.

An increasingly growing trend in the world of sports is that of NFL players adopting MMA training to their off season routines to help build stamina and overall athleticism. And Mitrione believes it's for good reason.

"A lot of it has to do with hand to hand combat and balance. If you have a strong balance and strong core, it makes a huge difference. It translates really well to football."

Matt's first taste of mixed martial arts training led to an unexpected encounter with an old friend who just so happens to be one of the best fighters in the sport.

"When I was with the San Francisco 49ers, the defensive line coach took us to American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) to train, and I actually went to high school with Jon Fitch and we reconnected out there, became roommates and started talking MMA. It was pretty cool to meet up with him again."

So how did Mitrione first get the idea to begin a career in MMA? Well, he can thank another high-profile athlete for that.

"When I got out of the NFL in 2005, I went into the corporate world, and while I had a lucrative insurance job, it just wasn't for me. I couldn't deal with that type of environment. Then I left for a startup football league called the All American Football League that went under. Then a good friend of mine named Jayson Werth (star outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies) called me and told me he was putting on a MMA show in our hometown of Springfield, Illinois. He asked me to fight in it since he knew I used to get in fights all the time. So, of course I said yes and I just got really into it. From there I found Chris Lytle, Jake O'Brien and my current coach and the rest is history. Eight months later I was on The Ultimate Fighter."

The man affectionately known as "Meathead" during his time on The Ultimate Fighter 10, wasn't exactly the most popular guy in the house, and it's something that even though it still bothers him, he has come to accept it for what it is... reality TV.

"To a certain extent it bothered me, but I did a lot of dumb stuff on that show. And I can see how people would hate me after watching the show. I did everything that people saw, so I can't be that upset about it, but there was some crafty editing going on to create those storylines.

Being on that show is not easy; it's stressful. Going into it I thought it would be easy, I figured I was bullet proof. But people who have been on the show will tell you it takes one to two weeks for you to get back to normal again. It really messes with your mind."

Mitrione's main rival in the house was of course Marcus "Big Baby" Jones. And even though editing made it seem like Mitrione wanted no part of Jones, Matt claims that couldn't have been further from the truth.

"I wanted to fight Marcus the whole time we were on the show. People who thought I was scared to fight him were crazy. They didn't know me, so I can't blame them. And he's an intimidating looking guy, but I'm not easily intimidated."

"Meathead" and "Big Baby" finally got a chance to settle their dispute at the TUF 10 Finale, and Mitrione knew the last word would be his.

"I knew I was gonna knock him out, there was no doubt in my mind. Marcus was a stepping stone, he had nothing for me."

Afforded the opportunity to take on Kimbo Slice at UFC 113 and quickly make a name for himself in this sport, Mitrione says there was no hesitation on his part to accept the fight.

When his manager told him about the possible match up, Matt could barely contain himself.

"YES! I want that fight, yes. I couldn't say yes fast enough; it's a perfect fight for me. I asked to fight him on the show but I was told no. I know he's a puncher and I'm a puncher, its gonna be fun."

Mitrione added that even though he and Kimbo are gonna come to blows this Saturday night, there's not even the slightest bit of animosity towards Slice on his part.

"I didn't see him fight enough in the house to really get a good gauge on him as a fighter. But as a person, he's a cool dude. I got nothing but respect for him. After this fight we'll be cool, before this fight we'll be cool, but during the fight were gonna try to knock each other out. And as long as neither one of us have to go to the hospital after the fight, I guarantee you we'll be drinking beers together later that night."

Slice's reputation as a street fighter unquestionably precedes his reputation as a true mixed martial artist. And the aforementioned Werth is doing his part in trying to get Mitrione in the right frame of mind for this fight.

"Jayson Werth is a highly successful baseball player and we were talking the other night and he gave me some great advice. He told me that in baseball when he and his teammates are facing a tough pitcher that has a lot of hype around him they always say to each other, ‘hit the ball, not the hype.' So he told me to hit the man, not the hype. He said he knows I'm not a guy who buys into hype, but he said he had to tell me that anyways. It's great advice."

As far as the contest itself, Matt claims that he couldn't be more comfortable with this match up.

"I feel very comfortable on my feet banging whether it's in the hole or making space. Wherever the hell this thing goes. If we start fighting in the crowd, I feel very comfortable with all that. I'm very confident that my reach, that my hands, that my chin and my athleticism are going to give him trouble. I could be wrong. He could just come in and kick the crap out of me and knock me out with his first punch but I don't think that's going to happen."

Mitrione later said that if you're planning on making a few extra dollars on this fight, the smart money is on him.

"I don't even know what the odds are right now, but I hope everyone that loves Kimbo bets all their money on him because I want my fans who bet on me to be able to pay their mortgage off of this fight."

The respect, or at least the recognition, that comes with beating a guy like Kimbo isn't unnoticed by Mitrione. He is fully aware of the opportunity that awaits him.

"I would be lying if I told you no [speaking of thinking about the possibilities that could come with a win over Kimbo]. Let's just call a spade a spade. Take Seth Petruzelli. Not even above average MMA fans knew who Seth Petruzelli was before his fight with Kimbo, now even my grandma would be able to recognize him in the store."

So, how is the fight going to end? Matt details quite the humorous prediction.

"Kimbo is going to sleep. I wanna punch him, elbow him, and knee him. I'll even hit him with a frying pan if I have to. And if that doesn't work, I'm gonna lace my gloves with super glue so that every time I punch him he loses his whiskers. Seriously though, this one is ending soon."

Click here for complete UFC 113 coverage.

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