Next Great Prospect? Mitrione Appreciates Praise, Not Ready to Wear the Crown

October 27, 2011

Matt Mitrione at UFC 119

Matt Mitrione

Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, the man Rashad Evans once nicknamed “Meathead,” Matt Mitrione has become one of the hottest prospects in the heavyweight division.

Following a win over former housemate Marcus Jones at the TUF 10 finale, Mitrione has only taken bigger and bigger leaps forward with his performances.

He finished legendary street brawler Kimbo Slice in under two rounds, picked up a win over the always tough Joey Beltran, and then finished off both Tim Hague and Christian Morecraft.

It’s no wonder with Mitrione’s recent success that he’s been pegged by many as the next star in the heavyweight division, but he’s not ready to start patting himself on the back just yet. As a matter of fact, Mitrione is very realistic about where he stands in the heavyweight division, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have goals of getting to the top.

“There’s no real reason to throw me to the wolves. Let’s see if I can develop on time and turn into something legitimate. As of right now, I wouldn’t say I’m a legit top 15, top 20 guy in the world, but I’m developing, I’m getting there. I will be there sooner or later,” Mitrione told MMAWeekly Radio.

Truth be told, Mitrione isn’t worried about where he stands in the heavyweight division right now or after his next fight. He leaves that up to Joe Silva, Dana White, and the folks at the UFC to decide what his role should be, and how fast or slow he deserves to be considered for something like title contention.

“They don’t pay me to worry about where my placement is in the world or as far as the UFC goes,” Mitrione said. “They pay me to go out there and punch people in the face and win and put on a damn good show. That’s all I really concern myself with.”

Modest or not, Mitrione still gets complimented quite often by journalists, other fighters, training partners, and coaches for his work ethic, ability to learn, and unreal athleticism. A few years ago many of those people made the same kind of comments about current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, but Mitrione is realistic when it comes to hype vs. reality.

“Well I appreciate that, but they also said the same thing about Brandon Vera and they also said the same thing about a handful of other guys that showed a tremendous amount of potential, but just never necessarily reached the top. So I appreciate that, but I feel like I’m grounded enough to take that all with a grain of salt,” Mitrione stated.

For his next test in the Octagon, Mitrione faces experienced UFC veteran Cheick Kongo. The French kickboxer is coming off a Hail Mary come from behind win where he knocked out Pat Barry at UFC on Versus 4 back in June.

How exactly is Mitrione preparing for his fight with Kongo?

“We’ve been doing a ton, a ton of testicular fortitude strengthening,” Mitrione joked. “We’ve actually been training where I pretty much split the uprights and letting them land.”

Mitrione is of course talking about Kongo’s history of random low blows in past fights. Whether accidental or with a purpose, Mitrione is ready for Kongo’s “attack.”

“I feel like I’ve developed the strength to actually draw my testicles into my body. So this fight here, I should be nut shot free because I think my nuts are going to be up inside of it. I should be good,” said Mitrione.

With the testicular training now over and after spending his last week in training with the Blackzilian team in Florida, Mitrione is ready to take the next step in his career. It starts with Cheick Kongo at UFC 137.

“I think I have the potential to get there,” said Mitrione. “If I don’t then I feel like I’m underachieving. We’ll kind of see where the ride ends.”

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