The 32-year-old heavyweight has gradually proven he’s a legit prospect in the division after dispatching the likes of Kimbo Slice, Joey Beltran, and Tim Hague.
Moving forward into Sunday night’s bout, “Meathead” switched from training at Duke Roufus’ camp in Milwaukee, Wis., to training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas to prepare for his larger opponent.
“I came out here primarily because I wanted to work with Neil Melanson, Randy’s grappling coach out there,” Mitrione told MMAWeekly Radio.
Mitrione will be the first to admit he feels like his wrestling has been lacking in prior fights and with a strong opponent who pushes for the takedown like Morecraft, he felt he had to step up his game.
“I kind of felt like I have lost two, maybe three rounds in the UFC so far, and I lost them due to me being on the ground. If I had a little better knowledge of actually missing submissions and then how to counter myself out of that and get myself out of trouble, then I might’ve not actually lost those rounds.
“So I really wanted to put a little effort into it and I ended up coming across catch wrestling. Neil Melanson is one of the best catch wrestlers around and I ended up working with him.”
The Springfield, Ill., native Mitrione brought in a former opponent of Morecraft in the giant Sean McCorkle, who stands at six-feet-seven-inches tall and weighs in at around 300 pounds. After training with McCorkle, Mitrione felt he has properly dissected Morecraft’s game.
“McCorkle actually flew out here (to Las Vegas) and worked out with me on two separate occasions, a week at a time. I’ve been actually working with Corky a very considerable amount. He’s been giving me great feedback on Morecraft, where he feels strong, and where he feels weak at, where he feels where his weak points are in his fighting game.
“Corky is so big, and he’s legitimately six-seven-and-a-half and he’s 300 pounds right now. So if I can stop Corky from taking me down against the fence with double-unders, over-unders, double-overs, dropping down for singles or doubles, then I can stop Christian Morecraft. I can find people that can emulate Christian Morecraft relatively well. Christian won’t be able to find anybody to emulate me well.”
According to the odds makers at Bet On Fighting, Mitrione is listed at -240, while Morecraft is at +190, making Mitrione the heavy favorite. Also, many pundits and fans are in agreement with Bet On Fighting, as they feel that Mitrione will decimate Morecraft, but Mitrione knows what’s ahead of him and isn’t taking his larger foe lightly.
“I feel that if I play my game plan and I enforce what I want to be done, I feel it can be a pretty good fight for me. If I don’t or if I let Christian get in on me, if he can get me to the ground, and if I’m not digging for my underhooks or do the things I’m working on here, then Christian will beat my ass.
“The kid is a scrapper, he’s a gamer, and he’s going to come out ready to go. I throw them, and I land them heavy, so if he can take a couple to the face repeatedly, good for him, but I’m sure I’m going to test his chin. I promise.”
Mitrione will look to keep his promise about testing Morecraft’s chin when the two heavyweights square off on the main card for UFC on Versus 4 this Sunday on Versus.