5 Things You Should Know About Matt Mitrione
Matt Mitrione has carved out quite a niche for himself in full-contact fighting, especially when considering the fact that he did not start competing in mixed martial arts until after the age of 30. Now a key piece of Bellator MMA’s heavyweight division, The Ultimate Fighter season 10 quarterfinalist will lock horns with Sergei Kharitonov in the Bellator 225 headliner on Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It serves as a rematch to their botched Feb. 15 encounter, which ended prematurely after Mitrione accidentally struck the Pride Fighting Championships veteran below the belt just 15 seconds into Round 1. The two men are jockeying for position behind current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, and neither of them can afford a misstep. As Mitrione prepares for his second confrontation with Kharitonov, here are five things you should know about him.
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1. He flung himself into the deep end right away.
Mitrione made his MMA debut under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner on Dec. 5, 2009, when he knocked out Marcus Jones at The Ultimate Fighter 10 finale. He compiled a 9-5 record with the organization before Bellator signed him as a free agent in 2016.
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2. He has not shied away from testing himself.
The six men who have defeated Mitrione—Bader, Cheick Kongo, Travis Browne, Ben Rothwell, Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson—own a cumulative 144-56-3 record, which equates to a .709 winning percentage.
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3. He was molded by the gridiron.
Mitrione played college football at Purdue University, where he was a defensive tackle and teamed with future hall of famer Drew Brees. He enjoyed brief stints in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Giants before injuries curtailed his career. Mitrione was credited with four tackles in nine pro games.
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4. Punching power pays the bills.
Heavy-handed and light on his feet, Mitrione has delivered 11 of his 13 career victories by knockout or technical knockout. Two of them were of the sub-minute variety, as he wiped out Philip De Fries in 19 seconds at UFC on Fuel TV 2 and cut down Derrick Lewis in 41 seconds at UFC Fight Night 50.
Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)
5. He left his imprint inside the Octagon.
Despite the fact that he has not competed in the UFC in more than 3 1/2 years, Mitrione still ranks fourth on the promotion’s all-time heavyweight list in knockdowns landed with nine. Per FightMetric, only Junior dos Santos (14), Andrei Arlovski (10) and Cain Velasquez (10) have recorded more. All three are former champions.
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