by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Mike Marrello returns to the XFO for his first fight of 2008. The Team Curran fighter will take on Terry Davinney in the main event of XFO 23 on Friday night in Lakemoor, Ill.

Recently, Marrello was a contestant on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter.

“Jeff (Curran) saw that they were looking for fighters for the next season and asked me if I could make the weight cut,” he said. “Of course I said yes. Jeff made some calls and the rest was history.”

The Ultimate Fighter is now in its seventh season and is one of the driving forces behind the UFC’s popularity. Going into the show, Marrello was well aware of the surprises that the new season could bring.

“You hear rumor mills all the time. I just wanted to prepare as if I would be the first fight going down there. You always see guys get down there and out of shape from not training.”

Thirty-two fighters were initially chosen to be contestants on the show. That number would be halved after fighters were paired up in single elimination matches. The winner got a shot to be in The Ultimate Fighter house, while the loser had to go home. Unfortunately for Marrello, he suffered a decision loss to Gerald Harris.

“Gerald Harris was a game opponent. I actually cut weight three times in about week and half for this fight. I did a mock cut about a week or so before I left. Then I had to cut weight again to make weight when I flew down there and the final weight cut did me in,” explained the Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt.

“I was so tired and sore from all the weight cut, I know that was the factor. They didn’t show much of my fight or me trying to fight back. I was a little upset about that, but that’s TV for you. What are you going to do?”

After being eliminated from the show, Marrello has been training hard in anticipation for his upcoming fight.

“Well since the show, I have been training a lot. And I mean a lot. I don’t feel I have a whole lot to learn from the show because I wasn’t at the top of my game; except maybe 185 (pounds) is not for me.

“Training for my upcoming fight (went) great. I have a great camp between Jeff Curran, Doug Mango and my strength coach Dave Davis. They seem to have a hold on putting good programs for me together. I just execute them,” he said.

Marrello was originally scheduled to take on WEC veteran Justin McElfresh for his XFO light heavyweight title. Due to personal reasons, McElfresh has pulled out of the fight. Marrello will now get the opportunity to avenge the only loss on his record when he faces Terry Davinney. The main event match will be for the interim XFO 205-pound title.

“McElfresh had to pull out and of course I’m upset with that. I am also happy about fighting Terry Davinney. I get some revenge, but at the same time I won’t get to beat the true champ. When I walk away with the belt that night, I won’t have beaten McElfresh, so I will have a sense of bittersweet success. I think getting a win over Davinney takes a blemish off of my record and hopefully I’ll shut some of the critics up for awhile at least.”

Despite a setback from The Ultimate Fighter, Mike Marrello is ready to get back into the cage and continue to establish himself as one of the best light heavyweight prospects today.

“I would like to tell my friends, family and fans thanks so much for all the support and being there through the ups and downs. If it wasn’t for them, a lot of this wouldn’t be possible.”