The charismatic UFC heavyweight breaks down his fight with Morecraft and makes fun of his buddy Pat Barry
HeavyMMA: Let’s get into this fight a little bit. Your opponent, Christian Morecraft, has said some things. This is probably the biggest test of your career so far, and it’s a fight that can carry the winner into the next level of the division. Do all of those elements change your mindset at all? Do his comments add any fuel to the fire?
Mitrione: It doesn’t add fuel to the fire. I think everybody might think that — `I’m gonna put it on this dude’ – but I think that’s just one thing he’s gotta remember, that everybody he’s fought has been a person that he’s been able to get ahold of and throw them around. If he can get me to that spot, good job. If he doesn’t get knocked out rushing in, coming in against me, good job. You really prepared. But if you can’t, than I’m going to force you to fight my fight. If you’re going to fight my fight against me? Good luck, brother. If you win, you really earned it.
HeavyMMA: Last time we talked, you said you wanted to be a heavyweight Dominick Cruz; showcasing your footwork and movement, and the development of your hands. Are you still there, or do you have some other things you want to show off this time around?
Mitrione: I always want to show off my shiny, new toy, and that’s my grappling and ground game, but my hands and shins don’t do me bad. If you’re going to give me the opportunity to just stand up and let’em fly on you, shit, I’m gonna take that opportunity every time I can. If I get to a point where I get a belt someday or I’m retiring with X amount of wins under my belt and I never had to show my ground game, then good for me. But if I’m getting my ass kicked and need to take it to the ground, or you take me to the ground, than I sure as hell better show my ground game quick.
HeavyMMA: Where do you see a win here putting you in terms of the division, and taking the next step?
Mitrione: It is honestly, and maybe it’s just a football thing for me too, but it really is just the person in front of me. Once you start kind of looking passed guys and figuring out who you want to fight next — that’s kind of the reason I stopped doing The Mitrione Minute with Ariel (Helwani); everybody was talking about Tito so damn much. I got tired of talking about Tito. I didn’t want to have the focus on something else. If I lose this fight, I don’t want to have somebody saying, `Oh, it’s because Matt was talking too much shit about Tito and he lost focus.’ Bullshit – if I lose this fight it’s because Christian Morecraft beat my ass, that’s all there is to it.
But I don’t see that happening. I don’t lose focus. Even though I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire a lot of times, I’m pretty damned focused. I know what I want to do and I accomplish it. As far as beating Christian and where does that put me, it puts me in the bank with two checks in my hand. I think that’s what it does.
To be honest with you, Christian’s 1-1 in the UFC; he beat (Sean) McCorkle and got knocked out by (Stefan) Struve. I don’t know why so many people are putting so much salt on this fella here.
I was hearing so much that this guy is the biggest test for me. He’s a huge body; I understand that. He looks really good as far as his ground-and-pound against Struve. Yeah, he looked good, but to be honest with you, Struve stayed in closed guard the whole time. He was just holding him in the position, so I don’t see, I haven’t seen anything tremendous from him yet.
I understand that he looks like he’s strong, but McCorkle took him down; he didn’t take McCorkle down. I don’t know how difficult it would be to whip down a 230 pound seven-foooter, you know? I’m not discounting him at all. If he gets me to the ground, he has a chance to whoop my ass.
I don’t care about what echelon it puts me in. I just know that this kid, he’s hungry, he’s aggressive, and he wants to scrap. I know he won’t be intimidated by the scenario, so good for him. I’ll get out there, let’em fly, and if he comes rushing in, I’ll touch his chin. If he doesn’t, I’ll touch his chin with my shins and make it happen.
Not to discredit him or discount him — and I hope he reads all this hype, and I hope that he feels like he’s the shit that nobody knows about – but if he does, I’m ready for him. I’m ready for him to think I’m kind of jovial or whatever, or to really think that he’s going to beat the piss out of me. Atta boy, good for you; I can’t wait to prove you wrong.